Probate

Probate is the process which transfers a deceased person’s property to those who are entitled to it, but only after the rights of all interested parties are protected, creditor’s claims are paid and taxes are determined and paid.  Property subject to a probate proceeding would include all solely owned assets that require assignment or transfer to those heirs or beneficiaries entitled to it by the Last Will and Testament of the decedent, or by intestate succession as outlined in the Wisconsin Statutes if the decedent did not have a Will.

Any property that was jointly owned with another individual or other individuals, or property that already has named beneficiaries (such as life insurance, annuity accounts, bank accounts, etc.) is not subject to administration through a probate action and can simply be transferred at the time of death without a probate proceeding.

Are you wondering if a Will of a deceased person has been filed, or if a probate has been started?  You can find out by doing a records search on the Wisconsin Court System Circuit Court Access page at https://wcca.wicourts.gov.

Types of Probate

Transfer by Affidavit (small estate affidavit):  When a decedent leaves property subject to administration, which does not exceed $50,000 in value, an interested person may use a small estate Transfer by Affidavit form.  This is a non-probate form and is available through the Wisconsin State Bar's website at www.wisbar.org.  This form does not get filed with the Probate Court.  

Formal Administration is a proceeding before a probate judge who presides and supervises the administration of the estate. Formal administration requires an attorney, and all issues are brought before the circuit judge.

Informal Administration is a proceeding that the probate registrar supervises without exercise of continuous supervision by the Court. In some cases, you do not need an attorney to proceed informally. Informal administration proceedings are circuit court proceedings under probate jurisdiction. For a guide to Informal Probate click here for additional information.  A Personal Representative’s Guide to Informal Probate is available online at www.wripa.org  Forms for an informal administration are available through the Probate Office or online at www.wicourts.gov

Summary Settlement proceeding can be used whenever there is a surviving spouse or minor children and the estate, less the amount of the debts for which any property is security, does not exceed $50,000. It may also be used whenever the value of the estate does not exceed the priority debts (e.g., taxes, administrative, funeral and burial, last illness, spousal and family allowances). For a guide to Summary Settlement click here for additional information.   Forms for a summary settlement administration are available through the Probate Office or online at www.wicourts.gov

Summary Assignment can be used whenever the value of the estate, less the amount of the debts for which any property is security, does not exceed $50,000 and summary settlement does not apply. For a guide to Summary Assignment click here  additional information.  Forms for a summary assignment administration are available through the Probate Office or online at www.wicourts.gov

Ancillary Proceedings are used in the administration of a decedent’s estate located in this county, when the decedent was domiciled in another state.  This proceeding is formal in nature and does require an attorney.

Trusts:  Effective July 1, 2014, changes in Wisconsin's Trust Code has made testamentary trusts no longer subject to the continuing jurisdiction of the court.  An interested person in a trust may petition the court to address any issues that might arise with the trust that needs to be addressed.  This action would be formal in nature and an attorney would be required.