Probate, also called estate administration, is the court-supervised process of gathering, inventorying, and distributing a person's assets after their death. In Wisconsin, the person responsible for these tasks is the personal representative of the estate. This person may have been named in the will, or appointed by the probate court if there was no will. The personal representative has a number of responsibilities, including notifying heirs and creditors that a probate case has been opened, paying the debts of the deceased person (decedent), and distributing the remaining assets after all legitimate debts have been paid.
The probate process can be unfamiliar and daunting, especially when the personal representative is a family member who is still grieving the loss of the deceased. At Ash Street Law, we are committed to guiding personal representatives through the probate process with compassion. We have years of experience with Wisconsin probate matters and can help you fulfill your responsibilities efficiently and thoroughly. We work with clients in Sauk County and the surrounding counties, as well as with personal representatives who live outside the state and need to administer an estate in Wisconsin. Because the services of an experienced probate attorney are considered a benefit to the estate, attorney fees are usually paid out of estate funds, not out of the personal representative's pocket.
Ash Street Law also represents heirs and beneficiaries in probate litigation, such as when there is a will contest or dispute over who should be appointed as personal representative of the estate. Attorney Nancy Thome has also served as a personal representative or special administrator in cases where the decedent had no family member or friend available to do so.
Small estates may not need to be probated. Wisconsin recognizes several alternatives to probate for small estates, such as transfer by affidavit, summary assignment, and summary settlement. At Ash Street Law, we will help you determine whether an estate is small enough to qualify for one of these alternatives.
Living trusts are an increasingly popular estate planning tool that allow people to maintain control of their assets during their lifetimes, and bypass probate after their death. If you have a living trust, you are usually the trustee during your lifetime, and you appoint a successor trustee to manage and distribute trust assets after your death.
If you are a successor trustee, you may have questions about your obligations, which might include making payments to beneficiaries of the trust, managing trust assets, and terminating the trust and distributing its assets. Ash Street Law can advise you regarding your duties and help you avoid any missteps that could lead to personal liability. We are also available to represent beneficiaries of a trust who have concerns about how the trust is being managed.
We invite you to contact Ash Street Law with any questions you may have about probate or trust administration, or to schedule an appointment. We look forward to working with you.