Probate FAQ

How long does probate take?

It depends. Probates will always take at least 90-120 days to finish, as the estate cannot be closed until the time for creditors to file claims expires. Our goal is to close all estates within nine months. If an estate takes longer than nine months, generally it is because of difficulty with selling or dividing assets (i.e. a house won't sell). 

I'm named personal representative in the will. Why do I have to go through probate? 

To protect banks and beneficiaries. The initial appointment process is intended to protect beneficiaries by making sure the will is valid (or there is no will) and the correct person is named personal representative. The court also forces the personal representative to report all estate assets, income, and expenses, which is designed to prevent fraud. 

 

The process also is designed to protect banks and other institutions dealing with personal representatives. Court-issued domiciliary letters guarantee the banks they are providing the decedent's funds to the right person. 

I live out of state. Can I still be personal representative? 

Yes. We routinely serve as estate attorney for personal representatives who live in other states and are managing estates here in central Wisconsin. We also have a network of trusted professionals who can assist with things that are difficult to manage from a distance, such as real estate upkeep. 

The attorney who wrote my mother's will retired. Can your firm help with her estate? 

Yes. Our firm routinely administers estates where the decedent's will was written by an attorney who has since retired. A personal representative is always free to choose the attorney who will assist with the estate. 

What should I expect for fees and costs?

Fees and costs vary greatly depending on the number of beneficiaries, the number and type of assets owned by the decedent, and whether the estate involves any unusual transactions (for example, splitting land or selling it to a family member). 

 

In many cases, we are actually able to pay for our fees or offset them significantly by making sure the estate beneficiaries get all of the tax deductions they are entitled to, and by helping our personal representatives make sound decisions managing assets. During our initial consultation, we provide an estimate of total fees and costs involved. 

Mike and his staff are amazing!  Extremely organized and detailed, they can get you results that make sense.  

 

- C.K., Stevens Point

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