“What is Probate and How Dose the Process Work?”
Probate Attorney Rhinelander
“Probate is the process of transferring ownership from a deceased individual to that individual’s heirs.”
Probate is the process of transferring ownership from a deceased individual to that individual’s heirs. When an individual leaves a Last Will and Testament, the process is called “Testate Probate”. When an individual dies without a Last Will and Testament, the process is called “Intestate Probate”. A person’s Will identifies who the decedent desires to inherit their estate. When a person dies without a Will, Wisconsin Statutes provide a process to determine who will inherit the decedent’s estate. The word “probate” frequently conjures up fears of extreme time delays to distribute assets to family and friends, and fears of excessive costs to conclude the estate of a loved one, including attorney’s fees and State and Federal Estate and Inheritance Taxes. The probate of any estate will likely also require the assistance of a Certified Public Accountant to address tax issues: however, few estates currently are large enough to be subjected to Federal Estate Tax, i.e. $5,ooo,ooo per person or $10,000,000 for a married couple. Lifetime gifts can reduce these amounts but, again, most estates are not subject to estate tax. Also, there is no longer an Inheritance Tax in the State of Wisconsin. We will work closely with your chosen Certified Public Accountant to minimize tax liability, if any. At Cirilli Law Offices, S.C., all estate work is charged by the hour, with a lessor amount for support staff time. We are sensitive to our clients’ concern to conclude their loved one’s financial affairs in a reasonable, cost-efficient manner.
Wisconsin law has an intricate system of dealing with the transfer of a decedent’s probate and non-probate estate assets. Depending on the type of assets and the size or value of assets, Wisconsin Statutes has both formal and informal procedures to utilize to probate the estate of a decedent. Informal probate does exactly what the title implies: streamlines and simplifies the process. Wisconsin Statutes also provide probate processes that do not require any court appearances for smaller estates or for estates where all heirs waive court appearances. Estates may be concluded by a Transfer Affidavit or Summary Assignment of the decedent’s assets. Keep in mind that many assets, i.e. joint bank accounts, vehicles with multiple names on title, land titled in joint tenancy or survivorship marital property, life insurance, many annuities, and payable on death instruments, are all transferred without any type of probate procedure. Also, between spouses, it is often not necessary to start any probate because the spouses owned all of their assets jointly, and accordingly, on the death of the first to die, all assets go to the surviving spouse without probate.
At Cirilli Law Offices, S.C., for more than 60 years, we have helped grieving families deal with the emotions of losing a spouse, parent, child, sibling, etc., while simultaneously addressing the transfer of assets that is necessary to conclude the financial affairs of the decedent.