Estate Planning in Wisconsin

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Gavel and Scales

Busy adults are often more concerned with getting to work on time than starting their estate planning in Wisconsin.  They are more interested in surviving from day to day and give little thought to what might happen if they are suddenly torn from the lives of their family members and friends.  Neglecting estate planning might not do you any immediate harm but it will create difficulties for your heirs.

The Good Part of Dying Without a Will

Dying without a will in Wisconsin is not always the end of the world for your survivors.  If you owned any retirement accounts, bank accounts, or life insurances with a beneficiary named then those funds will be passed on smoothly.  The problems usually arise when no such accounts exist or there is no beneficiary named.

In these situations your survivors can still rest easy because the state of Wisconsin will not automatically confiscate all property and money, instead they will decide how to dispose of any assets that you left behind. This means your heirs, or potential heirs, will be required to wait until the local court has made a decision to inherit the property or money that you have left behind.

Deciding Who Inherits What

More than one person has died without a will leaving families in absolute disaster.  To put an end to fighting and legal battles the state of Wisconsin has established strict laws regarding inheritance.  These laws dictate which family member will inherit what with only factors such as children from previous relationships determining who will inherit what.  The laws leave no room for pleading or complaining since the court makes all rulings based on this established set of rules.

Beneficiaries Favored by Wisconsin Law

When the deceased individual is married the surviving spouse will automatically become the primary beneficiary.  This means that the spouse will inherit the entire estate excluding only accounts or property held jointly with survivorship rights.  The only way a spouse will not inherit the entire property in Wisconsin is if the deceased individuals’ children are from a previous relationship and are not the children of the surviving spouse.

In this situation the spouse will receive only one-half of the estate with the remaining half being distributed equally among the children.  When the deceased has no spouse but does have children the children get the entire estate.  If the deceased has no spouse or children then parents or, if no parents are alive, siblings will receive the estate.

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