PROBATE AND ESTATE ADMINISTRATION
Probate is a court-supervised process to transfer ownership of a person’s property after their death. If the person left behind a Will, the Will is validated by the court and the property is distributed according to the terms of the Will.
The type of Probate procedure that is necessary depends on the complexity and value of the estate. The most common types of Probate include Transfers by Affidavit, Informal Probate, and Formal Probate.
Transfer By Affidavit
In Wisconsin, a Transfer by Affidavit can be used in many estates where the total gross value of the estate is under $50,000. With respect to assets such as real estate or vehicles, the $50,000 limit refers to the total value, without regard to any mortgages or liens.
A Transfer by Affidavit can be completed by an heir of the decedent, the Guardian at the time of death, or the Trustee of a Revocable Trust. If the assets include real estate, then the Transfer by Affidavit is recorded with the Register of Deeds.
By accepting property via a Transfer by Affidavit, the person signing the Affidavit takes on the responsibility of transferring the property to the person or people who are entitled to receive it according to the Will or according to Wisconsin law if the person died without a valid will.
Informal Probate is commonly used to handle estates that exceed $50,000 in gross value. It can be used whether or not the decedent left behind a valid will, although it can only be used when there are no challenges or disputes between beneficiaries.
Depending on the county, Informal Probate can often be accomplished without an in-person hearing, or at the least with a minimal amount of court appearances.
Formal Probate is used in situations where Informal Probate is not appropriate. This generally occurs when there is a challenge to the validity of a Will, or a dispute between beneficiaries as to the distribution of assets.