Each state has its own procedures and laws for the probate process, though the end goal is the same: transferring assets out of the deceased person’s name to heirs or beneficiaries. When there is no will, state intestate laws govern distribution to heirs. When there is a will, beneficiaries receive the assets. Here’s an example of how this works in Wisconsin.
Inside the Probate Process: Wisconsin
Probate is not always the scary, bureaucracy it is cracked up to be. Many states now have expedited processes based on asset ranges. When there is a will, and family affairs and relations are well-organized, there might not be that much to fret about during probate. Legal experts offer this inside look at the probate process in Wisconsin:
Probate is required (here in Wisconsin) if you pass away with assets of greater than $50,000 (gross) and those assets do not automatically transfer by “TOD” “POD” or “Beneficiary Designation.” Another way to transfer assets without probate is to have co-ownership and survivorship on accounts. It also works to transfer your assets to a Trust. Since the Trust does not die, a probate is not necessary.
The first step in probate is to file the Will (if there is one) along with a petition. A “petition” is another legal term that is used to describe the document that is used to ask the Court to do something. In this case, admit the Will and appoint a Personal Representative to be in charge of the probate process. Sometimes a petition is denied (for various reasons) and sometimes there is a disagreement on who is the appropriate Personal Representative; however, for simplicity sake, let’s assume the Court approves the petition. After a Personal Representative is appointed they are then given a set of tasks: notify the creditors, publish in the newspaper, compile a list of the assets owned by the decedent as of the date of his or her death, and requirements to keep the beneficiaries updated – providing them with an inventory and an accounting of the process. Then the Personal Representative has to actually do the work: consolidate the assets, liquidate them, retitle them, pay the bills and Court costs, and at the end of the process, distribute what is left to the beneficiaries (in accordance with the terms of the Will, if there is one).
What’s a Personal Representative Bond?
It is common for probate courts to require personal representative bonds. A personal representative bond is a type of fiduciary bond—it protects the interests of the estate and its beneficiaries in accordance with the state law. When the probate process calls for a fiduciary bond, such as a personal representative, administrator or executor bond, it is important to obtain the bond in a timely manner. That’s why Colonial Surety provides a wide range of fiduciary bonds digitally, directly and quickly, via an easy, online platform, available everywhere in the country—at any time.
The steps to obtaining a personal representative bond—or any fiduciary bond—with Colonial Surety are easy—get a quote online, fill out the brief information, and enter a payment method. Print or e-file the bond right from anywhere—even while in probate court. It’s that simple. Obtain a Personal Representative Bond Here Now.
Probate Across the Country
NOLO confirms that the basics of probate are similar across the country, and include: include:
- proving in court that a deceased person’s will is valid (usually a routine matter)
- identifying and inventorying the deceased person’s property
- having the property appraised
- paying debts and taxes, and
- distributing the remaining property as the will (or state law, if there’s no will) directs.
Unless the estate is complicated, the probate process commonly takes a few months to a year. It is of course helpful when families are prepared and organized. Unpaid taxes, debts, conflicts among family members or contested wills are examples of what can cause complexities and delays during probate. The importance of preparing a will and keeping it properly updating or correcting it cannot be overstated.
Probate Law? Partner Up
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Founded in 1930, Colonial Surety Company is a direct writer of surety bonds and insurance products. Colonial is rated “A Excellent” by A.M. Best Company, U.S. Treasury listed, and licensed for business everywhere in the USA.