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When Does a Wisconsin Estate Have to Go Through Probate? April 15, 2019

Sparta, Monroe
When Does a Wisconsin Estate Have to Go Through Probate?, Sparta, Wisconsin

If you are made the executor of a loved one’s estate, you will be responsible for guiding it through probate upon their death. This is the process by which an estate is settled and entails paying back lenders, filing a final tax return, and distributing assets to beneficiaries. While estate planning attorneys can help clients implement strategies to streamline or even bypass probate, there are scenarios when it is unavoidable. Here are just a few situations in which a Wisconsin estate will likely have to go through probate. 

When Is Probate Necessary?

1. When the Estate Exceeds a Certain Value 

In Wisconsin, estates that are valued at less than $50,000 do not have to go through probate. Instead, the beneficiaries simply have to complete a “transfer by affidavit” form to obtain ownership of any assets. If, on the other hand, the property is valued at more than $50,000, probate will be necessary. 

2. When the Estate Contains Assets That Are Not Exempt

attorneyIf the only assets an estate contains are exempt from probate, surviving loved ones can bypass the proceedings altogether. In Wisconsin, assets that do not have to pass through probate include property owned in joint tenancy, life insurance policies, accounts with payable on death designations, and assets held in a revocable trust. If the estate has even a single asset that is not exempt, though, probate will be required for the appropriate beneficiary to assume ownership of it. 

3. When the Estate Is Not Accompanied by a Will 

It’s easy to postpone estate planning, but probate attorneys know firsthand just how unpredictable life can be. That’s why they urge everyone to write a will sooner rather than later. If you die without a will, your estate will have to pass through probate. Instead of the terms of your will dictating the proceedings, though, the laws of intestate succession will apply. 


If your family needs help navigating probate, turn to the knowledgeable attorneys at Osborne, Tripp & Schmidt in Sparta, WI. Their compassionate team is comprised of four lawyers, all of whom have extensive experience in a variety of areas. Clients throughout western Wisconsin can turn to them for strategic guidance regarding personal injury claims, family law disputes, bankruptcy filings, criminal charges, real estate transactions, tax preparation, and probate proceedings. To schedule an appointment with an attorney on their team, reach out online or call (608) 269-2400. 

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