How Long Does Probate Take in Wisconsin?

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The time it can take for an estate to pass through a probate court in Wisconsin depends on many factors including the size of the estate, debts to be paid, and whether or not any interested parties contest the language of the deceased’s last will and testament. While there is any number of issues that may come up during probate, planning ahead and taking a few simple steps can help expedite the process as quickly as possible and ensure your heirs and beneficiaries receive their share of the estate.

Wisconsin probate laws require estates to be closed within 18 months but some counties have even adopted ordinances aimed at reducing the amount of time to 12 months. If for whatever reason, the executor cannot pass the estate through probate in time, he or she may ask the court for an extension for more time to perform the necessary duties to account for assets, liquidated holdings, and pay creditors if necessary.

For small estates with few assets and creditors, the process may take as little as six months if the executor in charge of the estate does his or her due diligence in cataloging assets and informing creditors about the deceased’s passing. Furthermore, the personal representative of the estate must file income tax returns for the deceased as well as income tax returns for any income earned by the estate after the decedent’s death.

In cases in which estates go beyond the prescribed amount of time to close, the courts may take the extreme step of removing the executor and replacing him or her with someone else to represent the estate. While it is a rare step, it is not uncommon and that is why testators need to choose a competent and trustworthy person to oversee their final wishes and make the process go as smoothly as possible.

One circumstance that can have a tremendous impact on the length of the probate process is whether or not an interested party like an heir or creditor steps in to contest the last will and testament. Whether it is a jilted family member or a business partner, these challenges need to be heard by the courts and can drag the whole process out for months.

Fortunately for beneficiaries, state law allows executors to dispense portions of the estates to heirs once the period for creditors to file their claims has passed. Depending on the situation, additional disbursements could be made once the executor sets aside funds to pay any income taxes the estate has incurred.

Madison Trust and Estate Lawyers

The experienced attorneys of Krause Donovan Estate Law Partners, LLC practice law in the areas of Probate, Wills, Estate Planning, and Trusts. We assist clients in and around Madison, Wisconsin with all matters related to estate planning, trusts, and probate. We invite you to request a probate consultation by using our online contact form.

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