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This article discusses “What is Required for a Will to Be Valid in Wisconsin?”
A will, also known as a "last will and testament," can assist you in protecting your family and assets. A will can be used primarily to:
- Bestow your property to individuals or organizations; and
- Name a personal guardian to look after your minor children, a trusted person to handle any property you leave to minor children, and a personal representative to ensure that your wishes are followed.
If you die without a will in Wisconsin, your estate will be divided according to state "intestacy" rules. The intestacy law in Wisconsin distributes your assets to your closest relatives, starting with your spouse and children. If you don't have a spouse or children, your property will be passed down to your grandchildren or parents. Siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews, and other distant relatives are added to the list. The state will seize your property if the court exhausts this list and finds that you have no living relatives by blood or marriage.
Do I Need a Lawyer in Wisconsin to Make a Will?
No, not technically. In many cases, however, you may want to seek legal advice. If you think your will may be challenged or if you wish to disinherit your spouse, for example, you should consult an attorney. When it's time to seek legal advice.
In Wisconsin, what are the requirements for signing a will?
To complete your will in Wisconsin, follow these steps:
Your will must be signed or acknowledged in front of two witnesses, and your witnesses must sign it within a "reasonable period" after you sign or acknowledge it.
Is it necessary for me to get my will notarized?
No, you do not need to notarize your will in Wisconsin to make it legal.
You may, however, make your will "self-proving" in Wisconsin, but you'll need to go to a notary to do so. The court will consider a self-proving will without contacting the witnesses who signed it, which speeds up probate.
To make the will self-proving, you and your witnesses will go to the notary and sign an affidavit stating who you are and that you were both aware that you were signing the will.
Should I Name a Personal Representative in My Will?
Yes. In Wisconsin, you will appoint a personal representative in your will who will ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death. If you fail to name a personal representative, the probate court will appoint someone to handle your estate's administration.
Is it Possible to Alter or Revoke My Will?
Unless you signed a promise not to revoke your will, you can revoke or change your will at any time in Wisconsin. You can revoke your will by doing the following:
You may burn, tear, cancel, obliterate, or erase all or part of your will, or having a new will that says it revokes the old will or has conflicting terms to the old will.
If you have two wills and aren't sure if you revoked the old one or not, Wisconsin has laws that decide if the new will revokes or merely supplements the old one. The old will is revoked if you meant it to be revoked. If your new will disposes of your entire estate, Wisconsin law assumes you wanted to revoke your old will. Wisconsin law assumes you only intended to apply to your old will if you didn't dispose of all of your assets in your new will. In this case, the executor should obey both wills' orders. If there is a conflicting word, the executor should obey the new will's guidelines for that term.
Any language in your will that leaves property to your spouse or names your spouse as your executor is revoked if you and your spouse divorce (or if a court decides that your marriage is not legal). This rule also extends to the former spouse's family. This rule does not apply if you expressly state in your will (or in a divorce settlement or a contract relating to property division) that divorce does not impact the provisions in your will. Consult an estate planning attorney if you have any questions about the impact of divorce on your will.
It's best to revoke your will and create a new one if you need to make adjustments. If you just need to make minor improvements to your will, you can add a codicil to your current will. In either case, you'll need to complete your changes using the same procedures as you did when creating your initial will.
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To learn about “What Is Required for a Will to be Valid in Illinois?”, click here.