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Wisconsin Will and Trust Dispute Lawyers

Estate Planning Attorneys Serving Milwaukee, Green Bay and Waukesha

Wills and trusts are vital documents for determining how a person’s assets are divided among beneficiaries. The document may be the only way to know a person’s intentions after he or she has died. A person who creates a will is a testator, and an individual who creates a trust is a settlor. The will goes into effect after the testator has died, while a trust can become immediately active and transfers to a trustee after the settlor’s death. Because of the valuable assets that are involved, beneficiaries may dispute the validity of a will or trust if they have reason to believe it was created improperly.

At Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP, our attorneys assist clients in creating various estate plans and handling probate litigation. We have the knowledge to contest an invalid estate planning document or settle a dispute between beneficiaries.

Grounds for Dispute

When legally contesting a will or trust, the plaintiff must prove why the document should be ruled invalid. Successful evidence will focus on how the document was created, not whether it treats the beneficiaries fairly. Common arguments include:

  • The testator or settlor did not have the mental capacity to consent to the document when it was created;
  • A third party coerced the testator or settlor to make an estate plan that disproportionately favors a beneficiary;
  • The document is unclear in explaining how assets should be distributed; and
  • The document was created or changed without a witness.

Some beneficiaries try to manipulate their relatives in order to receive a greater share of an estate. If given proper evidence, a court may rule that a will or trust is unenforceable. Our attorneys at GRGB can identify evidence that may lead to an invalidated will or trust.

Contention Process

Wisconsin treats wills and trusts with different judicial oversight, which can affect how a plaintiff will dispute the document. A probate court must approve a will for an estate valued greater than $50,000 before it can be executed. Beneficiaries can also file a form to contest the validity of a will, though they need to check with the probate court on when the deadline is.

Creating a trust in Wisconsin is not subject to judicial supervision unless one of the parties involved requests it. Avoiding probate court is considered one of the benefits of trusts because it saves the parties time and court costs. Beneficiaries can ask a court to modify or terminate an active trust, but Wisconsin law makes it more difficult for one beneficiary to alter a trust without the others' consent.

If you are concerned about the validity of your relative’s will or trust, you need to talk with an estate planning attorney to determine your options and how soon you must act. GRGB has experience dealing with probate courts and estate disputes. To schedule a consultation with one of our Wisconsin attorneys, contact our Milwaukee office at 414-271-1440.

Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP

330 East Kilbourn Avenue
Suite 1170
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Phone: 414-271-1440
Fax: 414-271-7680
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