Trust Administration & Probate: The Basics

When a loved one or family member passes away, his or her creditors must be paid and the remaining assets must be distributed to beneficiaries. In Wisconsin, this is typically accomplished in one of two ways, through probate or through the administration of a trust.

At Averbeck, Hammer & Slavin, S.C., we are dedicated to helping individuals navigate the often-confusing laws associated with trust administration and probate. We understand that the loss of a loved one can be traumatic, so our attorneys will take the time to explain everything you need to know to make the estate and trust administration process as smooth as possible.

What Is Probate?

In simple terms, probate is the court process in which property is transferred from a deceased person to living individuals. In Wisconsin, probate is typically required when an estate has a net value of $50,000 or more.

During probate, an estate's Personal Representative ― also known as the executor of the estate ― is given the authority to transfer the estate's assets to its beneficiaries. If a valid will exists, it will generally name the Personal Representative and outline how he or she should distribute the property. Alternatively, if there is no will, the probate court will appoint a Personal Representative and state law will determine which heirs receive the property.

In either case, this process can be complex, which is why it is often best to speak to an attorney if you have any questions.

A Trust Can Be Used To Avoid Probate

One popular estate planning technique for administering an estate without probate is to place assets in a trust. There are many possible types of trusts that may be used to accomplish this, which are usually called "living trusts".

Essentially, once a trust is properly executed, the trustee will be tasked with administering the property in accordance with the terms of the trust. This normally involves the payment of all outstanding debts and the distribution of the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. When appropriate, a trust may dictate that certain assets be held for minor children until they reach a particular age or retained for individuals with disabilities for their lifetimes.

Attorneys Dedicated To Achieving Results

Regardless of whether you are dealing with probate or trust administration, you may need experienced legal guidance. Contact Averbeck, Hammer & Slavin, S.C., today to speak to a lawyer familiar with Wisconsin probate and trust administration law. While our office is located in the City of Fond du Lac, we serve clients throughout Fond du Lac County as well as those living in Dodge and Washington counties. Reach out to us online or call us at 920-923-2220.