Wisconsin Probate Procedures to Challenge a Will

By Beth Lytle

When someone dies in the state of Wisconsin, there are specific rules put into place for challenging a will. Only certain people are able to challenge a will, however, everyone who has a legal right to challenge the will is given the opportunity both privately through court and in public (through public notices).

What Does Probate Refer To?

Probate refers to the court process used to transfer property in the case of a death or a living person in the state of Wisconsin. This is a necessary process regardless of whether or not a person dies with a will in place. Probate is completely unavoidable if a person dies and leaves an estate or property worth $50,000 or more in assets. Probatable assets can be described as property that is not transferred automatically upon the death of the owner. Bank accounts with no joint owner or pay-on-death beneficiary, real estate held solely in just one person's name, automobiles and so on are all examples of probatable assets in the state of Wisconsin.

The Probate Procedure

In Wisconsin, the Probate Court is administered by the County Register in Probate. When a resident of Wisconsin dies, an application for probate is filed with the Register in Probate. If a will exists, it will also be filed so that it can be proven. All interested parties are then notified of the procedures, which are taking place. Notices are also published in the local newspaper. All interested parties are given the opportunity to challenge the will and any persons or businesses who are owed money by the deceased party are given the opportunity to collect the debt that is owed from the estate.

A personal representative is usually put in charge of distributing the property and assets if there is a will in place. If someone has not been chosen to be the personal representative, the Court will make the decision regarding who gets what.

Once all the assets have been accounted for and distributed, the Court will collect a fee that is usually close to about 2 percent of the estate, or $2 per $1,000 dollars that the estate is worth. The people who are collecting the assets and the estate are paid once the Court has collected its fee.

Wisconsin Rules For Intestate Succession

When a person dies and leaves no will, there are specific rules for distributing their assets that are followed in the state of Wisconsin. Some of the rules include leaving everything to the spouse, if there is one, and if there is no spouse, leaving everything to the children, to be divided equally. If there is no spouse or children involved, but there are parents of the deceased party, everything is usually left to the parents. There are specific rules put into place if there are no parents, children or spouse.

Challenging the Will

It is very difficult to challenge a will, no matter what state the parties are located in. According to the Financial Web website, the two most common legal grounds for challenging a will include the testator lacking mental competence to make what is considered to be a valid will, and that the testator fell victim to the "undue influence" of another, so that what was written in the will doesn't reflect the testator's actual "freely made choices."

For someone who is planning on challenging a will, he or she should retain a lawyer for guidance. It can be very difficult to challenge a will and the person is likely to lose the case if he is representing himself. A good attorney can tell the individual whether or not they have grounds for challenging the will and where to go from there.

About the Author

Based in the Midwest, Beth Lytle has been writing professionally since 2008. Working as an editor and with recent work published on eHow, LiveStrong and the Bayer Aspirin website, Lytle is a self-made freelancer. Lytle writes health-related and home-improvement articles, first beginning her writing journey while attending writing workshops and classes during childhood. Lytle has owned transcription and commercial construction companies since 2006.

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