Wisconsin Probate Frequently Asked Questions

People are often concerned about whether or not they should try to avoid probate. Probate costs vary greatly depending on the size of the estate and the state where a will is probated. Leitner Law Office, LLP answers some common questions people have about Madison probate:


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How does informal probate administration differ from formal Wisconsin probate?

Informal probate is administered by the county registrar, is less expensive than formal probate, and in many cases can be handled through the mail, depending on the Wisconsin county where you live. Formal probate must be used if any aspect of the will is contested and it is overseen and ruled on by a probate judge.

When do I need an attorney to handle probate?

If going through formal probate, you must hire a lawyer to represent the estate. For informal probate, the personal representative may represent the estate and consult with an attorney as needed, or have a lawyer handle proceedings for them.

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What assets do not have to go through probate?

Estates worth less than $50,000 are not required to go through Wisconsin probate. In such cases property is transferred by affidavit. Other property that does not have to go through probate includes:

  • Joint tenancy of ownership
  • IRAs
  • Pensions
  • 401Ks
  • Retirement plans with named beneficiaries
  • Insurance plans with named beneficiaries
  • Assets in a living trust

What are probate costs in Wisconsin?

Court costs, probate bonds (if not waived by the will), along with personal representative and attorney fees are the main costs involved with probate. Court filing fees are based on the value of the estate's assets. Attorney fees vary depending on the complexity of the estate and how individual attorneys bill for services but cannot be based on the estate's value.

What are Wisconsin probate taxes?

Wisconsin has no estate taxes on probate. Estate tax in Wisconsin expired on December 31, 2007.

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