Probate / Estate Administration

Probate / Estate Administration

When a loved one passes away, his or her estate often goes through a court-managed process called probate or estate administration where the assets of the deceased are managed and distributed.  If your loved-one owned his or her assets through a well drafted and properly funded living trust, it is likely that no court-managed administration is necessary. The successor trustee administers the distribution of the deceased's assets.  The length of time needed to complete the administration of an estate depends on the size and complexity of the estate and the local rules and schedule of the probate court.

We are dedicated to making the Trust Administration and Probate process as stress-free and efficient as possible for your loved ones.  We have represented many Trustees and court appointed representatives in the administration and distribution of trusts and estates.  We will expertly guide your loved ones through the process with sensitivity and compassion.

Every probate estate is unique, but most involve the following steps:

  • Filing of a petition with the proper probate court.
  • Notice to heirs under the Will or to statutory heirs (if no Will exists).
  • Petition to appoint for the estate.
  • Inventory and appraisal of estate assets by Personal Representative.
  • Payment to creditors, court costs and administration expenses.
  • Sale of estate assets. 
  • Payment of estate taxes, if applicable.
  • Final distribution of assets to heirs.

Do I get paid for serving as an Executor?

Executors are reimbursed for all legitimate out-of-pocket expenses incurred in the process of management and distribution of the deceased estate.  In addition, you may be entitled to statutory fees, which vary from location to location and on the size of the probate estate.  The Executor has to fulfill his or her fiduciary duties on behalf of the estate with the highest degree of integrity and can be held liable for mismanagement of estate assets in his or her care.  It is advised that the Executor retain an attorney and an accountant to advise and assist him with his or her duties.

How much does probate cost?  How long does it take?

The cost and duration of probate can vary substantially depending on a number of factors such as the value and complexity of the estate, the existence of a Will and the location of real property owned by the estate.  Will contests or disputes with alleged creditors over the debts of the estate can also add significant cost and delay.  Common expenses of an estate include executors fees, attorneys fees, accounting fees, court fees, appraisal costs, and surety bonds.  These typically add up to 2% to 7% of the total estate value. Most estates are settled though probate in about 9 to 18 months, assuming there is no litigation involved.

Please contact our office for an Estate Settlement Pamphlet or our book  “ Your Life, Your Legacy”.

The team of Ross Estate Planning assists clients with Estate Planning, Wills, Trusts, Charitable Planning, Asset Protection, Trust and Probate Administration, Retirement Planning, Business Succession Planning and Entity Formation in Northeast WI including Door, Brown, Kewaunee, Oconto, Manitowoc, and Sheboygan..

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