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What is Probate and do I Need an Attorney?

Probate is the process of transferring property from an estate after death. When someone passes away, his or her assets and property still belong to the estate. A will is in place to provide directions for how the property is to be distributed after death.

The process is overseen by the probate courts. Wisconsin Statutes § 851 – 882 govern probate. The law sets forth directions for how probate is to be handled in a variety of instances.

Executor Responsibilities

The executor of the will is a person named by the testator, the person making the will. The executor or administrator is responsible for making sure that the wishes of the testator are carried out. The executor must gather all of the property that is part of probate, pay debts and taxes of the deceased, and collect any income owed the deceased. In addition, the executor may also need to settle disputes that arise in probate.

Disagreements are not uncommon between family members during the probate of a loved one’s estate. This can be the source of much stress and discontent as relationships become strained over the situation. When family dynamics become a concern, it can pit family members against each other. These types of disputes need to be quickly and effectively settled.

Do I Need a Probate Attorney?

While you are not required to have a probate attorney, it will certainly help. The probate process needs to be completed properly or it could end up costing you time and money. An experienced probate attorney will handle all types of probate litigation including contesting a will, probate fraud, contesting the trust, breach of fiduciary duty, disputes over joint bank accounts, death benefit payments, and more.

The issues that may arise regarding probate of an estate can be complex. A skilled attorney will be able to get to the heart of the matter and resolve any problems in a swift and efficient manner. Sometimes problems arise when a will is not adequately prepared or when there is no will in place.

To ensure that your own will is properly carried out, it is helpful to seek expert representation to create your own last will and testament. Your will should be clear, valid, and up-to-date. It should address all of the major issues that concern your estate following your death. It should protect your intentions so that the people whom you love and care about are properly cared for in accordance with your wishes. A properly drafted and executed will can avoid disputes and problems after your death.

Whether you are contesting a will or are handling the probate of a will, you can benefit from the experience, knowledge, and guidance of a probate attorney. It is best to seek help from a lawyer as soon as you feel that there may be a need. Your attorney will immediately review the case and assist in every way possible to fairly resolve the estate according to the wishes of the deceased. Contact Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. to discuss your case today.

Published January 27, 2019
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