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When Is Probate Litigation Necessary to Resolve a Contested Estate?

Posted on in Estate Planning

Milwaukee probate litigation lawyer

Milwaukee WI probate attorneyBy Attorney Jaclyn Kallie and Attorney Erin Strohbehn

The death of a family member can be a difficult, highly emotional time. An estate that is contested can make this an even more stressful situation—and one that requires a good probate litigation lawyer.

What Is Probate?

Probate is the process by which a person’s assets—or estate—are transferred to those who are legally entitled to them. The process is supervised by the court, and it makes sure all debts, taxes, and other expenses owed are paid and that the assets are distributed according to the decedent’s will or the state’s statues.

Formal Probate

There are several types of probate proceedings in Wisconsin. Estates that are contested invariably end up in what is known as formal probate. Formal probate occurs under the supervision of a circuit court judge when:

  • There is no final will.
  • All parties involved fail to agree to sign a waiver and consent.
  • Other cases, such as when a will is contested.

While an attorney is usually recommended for all types of probate proceedings, Wisconsin law mandates an attorney be hired for formal probate—and with good reason.

Legal Grounds for Contesting an Estate

Legally, there are four reasons for a will to be contested:

  • The will was improperly executed or signed.
  • The testator (the person who made the will) had a lack of mental capacity.
  • There was undue influence from another person on the testator.
  • The will was fraudulent. 

While these reasons may seem fairly cut and dry, they can often become very complex. 

Real-Life Grounds for Contesting an Estate

While one of the above must be cited as the legal reason for contesting an estate in probate court, the reality is that a suit could be filed for a variety of underlying reasons. A will contest may be initiated by a potential heir who was omitted—fairly or unfairly—from the will and therefore denied any claim to the estate. Some family members may feel they deserve more than what they were left—even in cases where the estate is split evenly among all heirs. This belief could be based on any number of reasons, such as having been a primary caregiver or helping the deceased out financially in the past. In these types of situations, emotions can soar to the point of distorting the perspectives of everyone involved, which makes seeking sound, third-party legal counsel all the more vital.

Contact Our Milwaukee Probate Attorneys

Disagreements over estate issues can grow ugly fast, while the actual court cases can seem like a never-ending nightmare. Whether you need to defend your rights as an heir or contest an estate, you need an attorney with the estate planning experience to guide you through the process from start to successful finish. Contact the Milwaukee, WI Probate lawyers at Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP today by calling 414-271-1440.

Sources:

https://www.wisbar.org/forpublic/ineedinformation/pages/probate.aspx

http://www.wripa.org/probate-faqs.html

https://www.thebalance.com/how-long-will-probate-take-3505270

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