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The Purpose & Benefits of Probate

In Wisconsin there are several types of estate administration that require supervision of the probate court. Two of these include formal administration and informal administration, both of which require the appointment of a personal representative. A formal administration requires that the personal representative be assisted by an attorney, whereas an informal administration may be granted without requiring an attorney's assistance.

As a beneficiary, it may be frustrating to find out that an estate will be tied up in probate proceedings for up to a year or longer, but it's important to understand that sometimes interested persons in Wisconsin don't have a choice. For example, if there is a will that prohibits informal administration, then formal administration will be required. If there is no will, or if there is a will but the nominated personal representative doesn't accept their appointment, and all interested persons do not request or consent in writing to an informal administration, then a formal administration will be required.

It is the responsibility of the probate registrar to decide whether or not to probate a will and whether an application for an informal administration will be denied because the statutory requirements have not been met. Decisions about which type of estate administration to use depend on a number of factors such as the size of the estate, the size and number of claims, tax issues, the validity of a will, the terms in the will, the working relationship among the heirs etc.

Whoever serves as a personal representative is given a VERY important job. This person may be required to post bond to protect the estate's assets, and they must keep the interested persons informed and settle the estate in a timely fashion. The probate registrar will send the personal representative a Notice of Estate Administration Deadlines, which will show him or her inventory due date by which the estate is to be closed.

Ultimately, the personal representative will have to prepare a final estate account, which will show all money and assets that came into the estate between the date of death and distribution, and all money and assets that were paid from the estate. It's very important to note that personal representatives are responsible for paying any taxes owed by the estate or the decedent. This may include gift, income and estate taxes. If the personal representative fails to pay all appropriate taxes, the personal representative may incur personal liability if they are owed and not paid from available estate assets.

Why is probate sometimes necessary?

Although probate is a somewhat lengthy and detailed procedure, it is provided by law in order to ensure that all property of the deceased is accounted for, and that all debts and taxes are paid. A personal representative is required to step into the decedent's shoes and carry out the business of settling the estate and see to it that property is distributed to the rightful beneficiaries. All of these functions are carried out under the supervision of the court in order to protect interested parties.

To learn more about probate or to learn about ways to reduce probate assets subject to probate proceedings, contact me, your Waupun probate attorney from the Hoeper Law Offices today at (920) 324-5050.

Categories: Probate
Hoeper Law Offices - Waupun Probate Attorney
512 E. Main Street
Waupun, WI 53963
Phone: (920) 324-5050

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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