Estate & Trust


Filing the Original Will - if you have the original will of the decedent

  • Complete and file with the Register in Probate Office the Affidavit of No Probate.
  • If a probate proceeding is required, the decedent's original will can be filed along with the other case initiation documents.
  • If the decedent left a will, it must be filed with the Probate office within 30 days of death even if no probate is required. (per Wisconsin Statute 865.05)
  • There is no fee for filing the original will.
  • Must file the original will, not a photocopy.

Filing a Will or Health Care Power of Attorney for Safekeeping

  • You can deposit your own will in the probate vault for safekeeping for a fee of $10. Only the person who wrote the will, or their written designee with the original receipt, can withdraw it. The written designation must be signed by 2 witnesses. There is an additional fee of $10 each time you replace a will or file a Codicil.
  • To file a Health Care Power of Attorney or Declaration to Physicians (also known as a living will), an $8 filing fee is necessary. Be sure to let the person you nominate as your agent know where he or she can find the document. Some people keep duplicate originals or copies in another location that is more accessible to close relatives and friends. The financial power of attorney is filed with the Register of Deeds Office.

Filing an Informal Probate Administration

Informal probate proceedings are non-judicial. That means they do not flow through the court system in the form of hearings before a Judge. Probate documents are still filed with the court and made available to the public, but personal appearances in probate court are unnecessary.

An informal probate is commenced by filing an application with the Probate Registrar in the county where the decedent domiciled (resides) and/or where the assets are located. Informal probate proceedings eliminate direct court involvement, though they do not eliminate the court's jurisdiction over the proceedings if disputes should arise. Informal probate proceedings are unsupervised. That means the personal representative may distribute the estate without court authorization.

Filing a Formal Probate Administration

Formal probate proceeding are judicial. They are followed by a Circuit Court Judge. Under Wisconsin, once supervised administration of an estate has begun, the jurisdiction of the court to supervise the proceedings extends until the entry of the probate order approving the distribution of the estate and the discharge of the personal representative. In essence, the supervision lasts until the end of the probate proceeding.

Filing a Special Administration

When it appears to the court that a person has died, the court may appoint a special administrator, if it appears that:

  • A cause of action exists for or against the decedent or decedent’s estate prior to letter being issued to a Personal Representative.
  • Circumstances exist under Wisconsin State Statute 867.05(5) and (6).
  • It is necessary to preserve an estate before a Personal Representative can be appointed.
  • Other circumstances at the discretion of the Court
  • The estate can be filed under Summary Assignment or Summary Settlement
  • The final judgment in an estate has been entered and an act remains unperformed, or unadministered assets are located.
  • There is no estate to be administered and an act needs to be performed on behalf of the decedent which affects or is important to the petitioner or any other person.

Filing a Summary Assignment / Summary Settlement

These two types of probate are used when the decedent is survived by a spouse and/or minor child (Summary Settlement), or if there is no spouse (Summary Assignment). The value of the estate cannot exceed $50,000 after the expenses are paid. Summary Assignment does require publication.

Filing a Claim in an Estate Administration

  • Complete the standard state form.
  • File the completed form with the Register in Probate together with the $3 statutory filing feel.
  • Send a copy to the Personal Representative and the estate attorney.
  • There is a time limit for filing a claim based on when the probate action was started. You can check the court file in person or review the court recorded on the Wisconsin Court System to find out the claims deadline for a particular case.

Transfer by Affidavit