Under a Will, instructions are given as to how you wish to have your estate divided among your beneficiaries upon your death. The Will is submitted to the Probate Court where it becomes public record. A notice to creditors is then published in the local newspaper. This notice informs creditors that they have to bring any claims against the estate for any outstanding debts of the deceased person in order to get paid from the estate property. The Probate Court makes sure claims of creditors are paid to the extent of available assets and your remaining assets are divided among your beneficiaries as you directed in your Will. In addition, a person or persons are appointed to act as Personal Representative.
The Personal Representative gathers up the assets and prepares what is called an inventory which then is filed with the court. The Personal Representative also prepares State or Federal tax returns that may be needed. Further, a Personal Representative prepares what is called an accounting, showing what money was paid from the estate and what money was received by the estate.
Upon approval of the final account and the payment of debts, the assets are distributed to the beneficiaries named in the Will and, if there is no Will, to the heirs of the deceased person. Often the Personal Representative will work with an attorney during the probate process. The Personal Representative can be paid up to 2% of the value of the estate as a Personal Representative fee.
Further, under probate, a beneficiary or interested person has the option of making a claim a Will is “invalid” and contest the Will. Next, in your Will you can nominate who you want to be your personal representative. However, the court is not bound by your wishes when it comes to appointing a personal representative. Moreover, you can nominate a guardian for your minor children as well as set up a trust to manage property for a minor child. Should you die without a Will, your assets will still be divided typically through the Probate Court. Wisconsin statutes set forth how the assets will be divided among your family members.
WAYS TO AVOID PROBATE THROUGH ESTATE PLANNING
In Wisconsin, there are several ways to avoid probate. Because probate is expensive, time consuming and a matter of public record, many individuals wish to take steps to avoid probate. Our attorneys are experienced in creating a plan for you to avoid probate. For instance, you can avoid probate by creating trusts in Beloit WI. You can give away your property before you die, setting up Payable on Death (POD) accounts, holding assets as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, transferring real estate through a Transfer of Death (TOD) Deed, creating life estates for real estate, naming beneficiaries other than your estate for retirement plans and IRAs, and if your gross estate has a value of less than $50,000 your property can be transferred by an Affidavit upon your death. There are many ways to avoid probate and have your assets distributed as you wish. Our office of trust attorneys in Beloit, WI can provide you a free consultation on Wills in Beloit, WI. Call our experience attorneys at Monahan & Johnson, S.C. for your estate planning needs.