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Answers To Common Probate Questions

At W.R. Stewart & Associates, S.C., in Madison, Wisconsin, we understand that clients have many concerns after a loved one passes away. Our probate attorneys assist families with matters of probate and estate administration to transfer assets following the death of a loved one.

From opening the estate until the final distribution of the estate assets, our lawyers will carry out the task in a timely and efficient matter. Our firm also administers estates valued under $50,000 in summary procedures, which can be faster and less expensive. We are here to guide you through the estate administration process or handle it all for you.

What Is Probate?

When a property owner dies in Wisconsin, state law requires that the decedent’s estate be administered through some form of probate proceeding. Probate proceedings usually involve three stages: (1) inventory and collection of assets owned by or owed to the decedent; (2) payment of the decedent’s debts and the costs of estate administration from the assets of the estate; and (3) distribution of the balance of the estate assets, or the decedent’s property, in accordance with the decedent’s will or, if there is no will and the decedent died intestate, in accordance with the laws of intestacy.

How Long Does Probate Take?

The probate process can take several months to years, depending on the size of the estate, the types of assets owned, the form of ownership, tax issues, creditor’s claims, marital property issues, and whether a closely held business is involved. Even a small, uncomplicated estate may take up to six months. This is because of notice requirements to creditors of the estate. Additionally, the identification and administration of the estate assets can be complicated. Fortunately, it is possible to distribute portions of the estate assets to the beneficiaries even while the estate is still in probate.

How Can I Avoid Probate?

Not all of a decedent’s assets will be subject to probate. For example, assets titled in joint ownership or held by a revocable living trust will not need to be probated. Additionally, nonprobate assets include assets for which there is a beneficiary designation, such as life insurance and retirement accounts. Our estate planning lawyers can help you to develop a comprehensive estate plan to accomplish your goals and minimize the time and expense of probate.

We have helped clients in Madison, in Dane County and throughout Wisconsin with probate and estate administration needs. The probate of an estate can be contentious, particularly if a will is not present. Our probate attorneys are experienced at handling delicate issues of family disputes and will work with you and your family to provide solutions.

If you would like more information about our probate practice, or to schedule a consultation with an experienced probate attorney, contact our attorneys at the law office of W.R. Stewart & Associates, S.C., today: 608-509-9049.