Informal and Formal Probate
Probate is the required court-supervised process for administering someone’s estate, whether they died with or without a will. Our attorneys can help you understand which assets are subject to probate, and can assist you throughout the probate process.
Whether you have been designated as someone’s personal representative, you are a named beneficiary in a loved one’s will, or you have an interest in someone’s estate, protecting your interests while respecting the decedent’s final wishes can be a challenge. The probate process is complicated, and navigating its rules and requirements often requires the help of an attorney with extensive experience in probate administration.
At Crooks Law, we bring decades of experience to representing personal representatives, loved ones, and family members in all aspects of Wisconsin probate. We handle both informal and formal probate, and provide experienced representation for trust administration and other non-probate matters as well.
Two Types of Probate: Informal and Formal
In Wisconsin, there are two main types of probate: informal and formal. Formal probate is required, unless the requirements for using informal probate are satisfied.
Informal probate is available in circumstances that allow for a relatively straightforward administration process. In order to use informal probate:
- The decedent’s will must not require formal probate.
- The named personal representative must accept his or her appointment; or, if there is no personal representative specified, all interested parties must agree to the appointment of a single personal representative.
- No interested parties can demand formal administration.
Although Wisconsin law allows personal representatives to manage informal probate without legal representation, due to the complexities involved, many personal representatives choose to hire an attorney to assist them with the process.
With formal probate, the entire process is overseen by a judge. In addition, the judge presides over hearings and issues rulings, with respect to any disputes regarding the contents of the will or the performance of the personal representative’s responsibilities. In some cases, an estate will be opened in informal probate and then switched to formal probate when a dispute arises.
Our Services for Wisconsin Probate
We represent all parties to informal and formal probate proceedings in North Central Wisconsin. Our services include:
We represent personal representatives in both informal and formal probate. Personal representatives have many important duties, and they must take care to ensure that they carry out these duties in accordance with Wisconsin law and the terms of the decedent’s will. In addition to representing personal representatives in will contests and other disputes, we also provide assistance with:
- Identifying and collecting assets
- Determining heirs and beneficiaries
- Sending notices to creditors
- Paying debts, taxes, and other estate liabilities
- Making distributions to heirs and beneficiaries from the estate
Heirs, Beneficiaries, and Other Interested Parties
If you are facing a dispute regarding the contents of a will or need to enforce a personal representative’s obligations, we can assist you in protecting your rights and respecting the decedent’s final wishes. In many cases, ambiguities in the language of a will, and changes in circumstances after a will’s execution, can lead to disagreements about what was intended. In addition, in some cases, personal representatives simply are not equipped to handle the responsibilities of administering a complex estate.
If you need legal help with regard to finalizing the administration of a loved one’s estate, we can help you seek to achieve a quick, amicable, and cost-effective resolution.
How Long Does Probate Take?
The duration of probate depends on a number of factors, including the size and complexity of the estate, and whether there are any disputes or other issues involved. Simple estates can close in a matter of months, while large, complex estates can be in probate for a year or longer. Debts, income taxes, and in some cases estate taxes all need to be paid, and the personal representative must ensure that all steps have been completed appropriately before closing the estate. At Crooks, Low & Connell, S.C., we can guide you through the entire process and help you understand your rights and responsibilities every step of the way.
Speak with an Experienced Probate Administration Lawyer in Wausau, WI
If you would like to speak with one of our attorneys about representing you in probate, we invite you to contact us for an initial consultation. To get started, call our Wausau, WI law offices at (715) 842-2291 or send us a message online today.