When someone dies, they have property and assets that must pass to their beneficiaries. Their property and assets are generally called their estate. The person designated to handle the affairs of the deceased and settle the estate is called the executor. A person typically chooses their executor and makes it part of their estate plan. The executor takes care of all the financial and other matters of a person and takes care of the estate settlement after their death. An estate planning attorney can help designate the executor and can assist the executor in their duties.
What is Probate?
Probate is the process of reviewing a deceased person’s estate and determining who will inherit assets. Probate is a legal process that can be done whether a person has a will or not. In Wisconsin, probate is required when you have a will and the estate has a value of $50,000 or more. The executor takes the lead on probate, which includes many tasks such as identifying assets, paying funeral costs, managing and paying creditor claims, and completing taxes, among other things. The executor notifies beneficiaries, and after all estate debts are paid, they will distribute the remaining funds to them.
How Long Does Probate Take?
There are many various tasks that the executor or administrator must handle as part of the probate process. The length of time it takes to complete the process varies greatly from case to case. If the estate is rather simple, with limited assets and few beneficiaries, probate may only take a few months. However, many estates are complex and have many different types of assets and debts and several or more beneficiaries. Probate can take much longer to complete in those instances. Also, if someone contests the will, it will extend probate.
How Long Does an Executor Have to Settle an Estate in Wisconsin?
Wisconsin probate laws require an estate to be settled within 18 months. Generally, some counties in Wisconsin request that an executor settle an estate in 12 months. Executors should work toward completing probate within that time. If a situation arises that complicates probate, the executor may request additional time. The court will review the request and may grant a petition for an extension of time. It is important to note that if the court finds that the executor is not completing the job adequately, they may appoint a new executor to oversee probate.
Resolving Probate Issues
Probate can be a complex process. It is often helpful to seek legal guidance to aid with probate. Your attorney will assist the executor and provide valuable advice for various matters that crop up with the estate. An attorney will also help resolve disputes that often arise between beneficiaries during probate.
An experienced probate attorney understands the process and will be available to handle legal matters in order to ensure that probate is completed on time. You must notify the court that you have an attorney to represent probate within 30 days. When you need the services of a skilled probate attorney, call us at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. at (608) 784-8310 or online for a consultation.