Wills Attorney – Brookfield, WI.

Serving Waukesha, Elm Grove, New Berlin, Pewaukee, & Lake Country.

What Is A Will

A will is a legal document through which an individual decides who will inherit their assets upon their death.  If the individual has minor children, a will can also appoint a legal guardian for them.

Do I Need A Will?

If you want to decide who will inherit your assets when you die, want to appoint a guardian for your minor children and/or want to decide who will be responsible for administering your estate, then you need a will.  If you die without a will, Wisconsin’s intestacy laws create one for you and the statue governs who will inherit your estate.  Further, should your estate require probate, any interested person can apply to the court to be the Personal Representative (executor) of your estate, putting them in charge of its administration.

Who Can Make A Will?

Any person of sound mind 18 years of age or older may make and revoke a will.

What Is Required To Make A Will Valid?

A will must be in writing and signed by the testator (the person making the will) either personally or with the assistance of another person. It should also be dated.  Two witnesses must also sign the will. The witnesses either need to see you sign the will, have you acknowledge signing the will or acknowledge its existence in their presence.  The witnesses may observe the signing or acknowledgment at different times.

Do I Need A Lawyer to Draft My Will?

No.  As long as it complies with Wisconsin law, a will does not need to be drafted by an attorney.  However, the assistance of a lawyer can be invaluable, especially in more complex situations. An estate planning attorney will assist you with all components of your estate plan to protect the quality of your life and ensure your loved ones are provided for and make sure your documents are legally binding.

Can I Change My Will?

Yes.  You can change your will by preparing a codicil.  A codicil is an addition or supplement which functions as an amendment to your will.  Codicils must meet the same legal requirements of a will.  For more extensive changes, you can also simply make a new will which will revoke any prior will.

I Have a Trust. Should I Also Have A Will?

Yes.  A trust can only distribute assets that are put into the trust.  Without a will, assets that are not titled in the name of your trust will pass through Wisconsin’s intestacy laws.  Therefore, if you have a trust, it is important to also have a “pour-over will” which sends any assets that are not in trust at your death to your trust.

Can Someone Challenge My Will?

A person or entity with standing can challenge a Will in Wisconsin.  There are generally 3 grounds upon which to challenge a will: (1) Lack of Testamentary Capacity; (2) Undue Influence; and, (3) Improper Execution.  Generally, in order to have standing, the person or entity challenging the will must be an heir or a beneficiary of a prior will.

What Is The Difference Between Heir & Beneficiary?

An heir is any person including a surviving spouse that would be entitled to inherit the property of a decedent if the decedent had died without a will.  A beneficiary is someone named in a will to inherit a decedent’s assets.

Do I need probate if I have a Will?

Only if the value of property passing through your estate is over the $50,000 threshold.

 

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