Many people who are involved in handling an estate have heard about the probate process, but they might not be exactly clear as to what it entails. Probate is a very common part of the distribution of assets for people who have passed away in Wisconsin. It doesn’t always take place, but when it does, it goes through a very specific process.
The first step in the process will be to determine if the person who passed away left any sort of will behind. Even if there was no will left behind, many estates still have to go through the probate process.
The next step of the process is called “opening the estate” with the court. This is a simple process, and it involves the executor going down to the court for a brief hearing. During this hearing, the court will officially name that person the executor of the estate and allow that person to make all decisions relating to the estate.
The next step of the process is locating all of the decedent’s assets. This is usually done via a thorough examination of bank account statements, insurance plans, car titles and anything else tied to the decedent’s net worth. The executor will need to gather the decedent’s tax returns for the prior three years. The executor will also locate and contact all financial institutions so that the decedent’s accounts can be frozen.
The executor will pay the decedent’s income taxes and any outstanding estate taxes. Once these are paid, any final bills will be paid. This includes bills relating to the estate. Once all of these final costs have been taken care of, the balance of the estate can be distributed among the beneficiaries.
Wisconsin residents who are going through the probate process may benefit by working with attorneys who have experience handling all types of estates. These attorneys may be able to advise them on even the most complex cases.