Estate planning comes with a fair number of questions; some of them are questions specific to the client’s situation, such as about guardianship of children or assets. (Get answers specific to a Wisconsin will from an experienced and local lawyer.) Other frequently asked estate planning questions are general questions that can apply to wills drafted in Wisconsin; we’ve addressed those general questions about wills in this post.
Why is a will needed?
A will is an important legal document that provides direction for the distribution of assets (such as naming beneficiaries), instructions for the care of minors, can become a vehicle for organizing assets, and a place to include any other wishes that should be carried out after death. There is never a “right time” for drafting a will; this legal document should be drafted in case of any unforeseen circumstances. When deciding to draft a will, ensure that the document is legally sound; contact a local lawyer knowledgeable in Wisconsin wills.
What happens if there is no will when someone dies in Wisconsin?
Wisconsin has laws, called the intestacy succession laws, in place when a will is not drafted at the time of death. These laws apply to the probate estate. If the person who has passed has no family, the entire estate goes to the state of Wisconsin. Otherwise, the probate estate of the estate is passed to the surviving spouse and any children of the deceased (this does not apply to the spouse’s children). When the deceased is not married, the probate estate passes to the parents or siblings (the exact circumstances dictate the exact distribution).
Should my spouse and I have a joint will?
Many spouses draft a joint will; however, there are circumstances where each spouse should have their own will. In these cases, a mirror will, revocable trust, or irrevocable trust may be appropriate for the situation; an experienced estate planning attorney can determine the correct legal document specific to the circumstances.
Should a will in Wisconsin be notarized?
A will in Wisconsin does need to be signed by witnesses but does not need to be notarized. However, there are specific advantages of a notarized will, such as expediting the process of probate. If contacting a lawyer, the lawyer can make sure that the will is in order and notarized for the benefit of all parties involved.
Do Wisconsin wills need to be updated?
A will is not a static legal document and should be reviewed periodically as life changes affect the situation. Contact a lawyer when there are additional children (or grandchildren) that should be addressed in the will, a new beneficiary should be added (i.e. charity), a new executor should be named, family relationships have changed, or there is a significant change in assets (either a decrease or increase).