Blog

What is Probate and How Can You Help Your Loved Ones Avoid It?

What is Probate and How Can You Help Your Loved Ones Avoid It?

  • January 5, 2023

What is Probate and when is it necessary? Attorney Justin Randall appeared on Local 5 Live to cover the basics of the Probate process and when it becomes necessary.

Lisa Malak
You've probably heard the term probate, but as you're planning for your future, you'll want to know what it is.

Millaine Wells
Attorney Justin Randall is here from Hooper Law Office. Good morning to you. So generally, what is probate?

Justin Randall
So, probate is the process where after someone passes away, if they have a will, they have to file the will with the court and then the will is actually the instructions to the court for who they want in charge of the estate, where they want things to go. And, it really depends on how they own their assets, how they designate their assets of whether or not they'll actually need to use probate for them.

Lisa Malak
So is probate required in Wisconsin then?

Justin Randall
So if you have a will and you have probate assets, so things without joint ownership, things without beneficiary designations, or things not owned by a trust, and those assets total more than $50,000, then it's required.

Millaine Wells
Okay. What is a probate process like in our state?

Justin Randall
So first and foremost, the will has to be filed. If there is one. If there's not, then somebody has to petition the court to open the probate estate. After the Wills filed the personal representative. What a lot of people are familiar with being called an executor. That person will be appointed by the court and then it can usually take about a year to a year and a half from start to finish with things like notifying creditors, making final distributions of the estate, things like that.

Lisa Malak
So how long does probate take? Usually and is it costly?

Justin Randall
So it can take anywhere from about a year to a year and a half on average. It can be quicker than that in less complex situations. I've heard stories of it taking more than two years, so it can really vary depending on the situation. Cost is very similar in that way where it can be very inexpensive if it's a very quick kind of special administration. But you'll generally see figures of 3 to 5% of the value of the probate estate. So it can be very costly, too.

Millaine Wells
So the ideal scenario is planning in advance, but say we haven't and where you have found ourselves in a probate situation. Can your team still help?

Justin Randall
Absolutely. So, I mean, we've helped people who have wills drafted through our office, who had wills drafted through other offices, or sometimes people who didn't have a will at all. And somebody was just trying to figure out where to even get started. So we can help in any of those situations.