Do I really have to do a probate when there is just a small amount to be transferred?


If often seems like taking a small estate through probate is like driving a tack with a sledge hammer. There is no need for the formalities of a full probate process just to transfer the decedent’s car and a few miscellaneous checks that always seem to come in after death. For that reason there is a simplified procedure known as a Transfer by Affidavit which can be used.

The way the affidavit works is that someone (usually the personal representative nominated in the Will) lists all of the probate assets on the affidavit, and under Wisconsin Law those assets are transferred to that person. The person who executed the affidavit then pays the final expenses and any creditor claims before distributing what remains according to the provisions of the Will.

If you use the transfer by affidavit approach it is probably advisable to still do the creditor notification to prevent becoming liable for the decedent’s debts. You also need to make certain that all income taxes are paid and the proper tax returns filed.