Coping with the death of a loved one is never easy. You will likely be feeling grief, and you and your family might be emotionally overwhelmed. There is a process in place when someone passes away. A person’s estate must usually go through probate. Probate is a legal process that administers the deceased person’s will or estate. An experienced estate planning attorney will help you through the probate process.
What is Probate?
Probate is the process of settling a person’s estate after their death. Most estates must go through probate unless they have a value of under $50,000 or have a living trust in place. Probate includes all aspects of a person’s estate. When probate is complete, the estate has been closed, and property and assets are distributed appropriately. The probate process can take as few as six months for a relatively simple estate but can take longer than a year in complicated cases. The process can be further complicated if someone contests the will.
Who Manages the Probate Process?
The executor or administrator is the person who is legally responsible for managing the probate process. In Wisconsin, the executor is called the personal representative. Probate court oversees the entire probate process. A personal representative is a person you specify in your will to handle your affairs after your death. If you don’t have a will, the court will appoint a personal representative.
The personal representative performs many tasks, including the inventory of assets, paying debts, paying taxes, determining and notifying heirs, conducting an estate sale or disposal of unwanted items, distributing assets, and much more. Per Wisconsin law, a personal representative will be paid 2% of the total value of the estate for their services. The will may also specify additional money to be paid to the executor.
Choosing Your Personal Representative
The personal representative is the person who will handle all of your affairs after your death. The person you choose should be a trusted relative, close friend, or loved one who has the ability to take care of matters according to your instructions. Wisconsin law requires that the personal representative be at least 18 years of age and of sound mind. The advantage of choosing your executor is that you have the chance to provide the person with detailed information regarding your wishes. This means that your administrator will be sure to follow your requests through the probate process.
Wisconsin Universal Probate Code
Wisconsin has laws in place that govern probate. These are called the Wisconsin Universal Probate Code. The personal representative must follow all the laws that pertain to the probate process. The probate judge oversees the process, particularly in situations where the will is contested. The executor may seek assistance from an attorney for guidance in the probate process. It is important to note that the person designated as the personal representative must petition the court for the administration of the estate. If the personal representative does not petition the court within 30 days, the judge will appoint someone to fill that role.
The probate process can be complex at times. The personal representative may need legal help in handling the many tasks involved in probate. Get the help you need from our experienced probate attorneys at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. at (608) 784-8310 or online.