Creating a will is an important step in planning the distribution of your estate (assets including real and personal property) following your death. Wisconsin wills allow for any children, your spouse, other family members, and pets to be provided for after your death. LegalZoom works with you, the testator (the person making the will), to create valid Wisconsin wills and to assign a person (called the executor in most states) to administer a Wisconsin last will and testament after the death of the testator.
Requirements for a Wisconsin Last Will and Testament:
Age: The testator must be at
least 18 years old.
Capacity: The testator must be of
sound mind (capable of reasoning and making decisions).
Signature: A Wisconsin last will and testament must
be signed by the testator or by some other person under the testator's
direction in the testator's presence.
Witnesses: At least 2 witnesses (who
are not beneficiaries) are required for a valid Wisconsin last will and
testament by subscribing their names to the will within a reasonable
amount of time after witnessing the testator’s signing of the will or the
testator’s acknowledgement of his or her signature on the will or of the
Writing: A Wisconsin last will and testament must
be in writing to be valid.
Beneficiaries: A will may make a
disposition of property to any person.
types of recognized wills
Holographic Wills: A holographic will is one that is handwritten by the testator. Wisconsin does not ordinarily
recognize holographic wills as valid, as they do not comply with
A will is
a legal document created by you to determine how your property, known as your
estate, is distributed after your death. Your estate consists of assets and
property including bank accounts, homes, land, furniture, automobiles, and
securities (stocks and bonds). In general, a Wisconsin wills form allows you to dispose of your property as you
wish once your debts have been paid and the rights of your surviving spouse and
children have been covered.
Notable exceptions to the ability to distribute property:
- Our Wisconsin wills form may be used to
designate a guardian for any minor children. Our Wisconsin wills form may be create a
trust and designate a trustee to handle an estate (property left after
death) on behalf of children or others.
- Our Wisconsin wills may also be used to
name an executor to handle a decedent's (the person who died) property and
affairs from the time of death until an estate is settled.
marital property – goes directly to a surviving spouse. An example would be a
house that has both spouses’ names (and only their names) on the title.
- Jointly owned property with the rights of survivorship automatically passes onto
Wisconsin does not currently have estate
planning laws specifically tailored to providing pet trusts. Wisconsin does, however, have a very
general honorary trust statute under which a trust for the care of a pet may be
Changing and Revoking
A Wisconsin will and testament may be changed
whenever the testator desires. A Wisconsin will and testament can be changed
through a codicil, which is a document stating additions or changes to the
original will. Codicils must be executed in accordance with Wisconsin probate laws.
A Wisconsin will and testament, or any part
thereof, can be revoked:
of a will in its entirety revokes its codicils, unless revocation of a codicil
would be contrary to the testator's intent.
subsequent will that revokes, or partially revokes, the prior will expressly or
by conflicting or different parts; or
- By being
burnt, torn, canceled, obliterated, or destroyed, with the intent and for the
purpose of revoking the same, by the testator or by another person in the
presence and by the direction of the testator.
Probate and Estate Taxes
is a legal process for starting the transfer of property when the testator
dies. The procedures validate the Wisconsin last will and determine ownership of the property. Property that does
not pass via community property, right of survivorship, trust, or insurance is
subject to probate proceedings. After the
Wisconsin last will is admitted at court,
the executor files applications for the probate of a will and for legal
documents called letters testamentary. Several
important functions of probate proceedings include:
or taking possession of, the decedent's property.
and preserving the decedent's estate.
all debts, claims and taxes.
who is entitled to the assets and distributing the property according to
the Wisconsin last will.
Wisconsin's estate tax is a
"pick-up" tax designed to absorb the federal estate tax credit for
state death taxes. No additional estate tax is imposed. The federal tax is
based on the value of assets in the taxable estate. The Wisconsin estate tax is equal to the state
death tax credit allowed on the federal tax return. Filing a Wisconsin estate tax return does not
increase the total tax liability of the estate, but instead redirects revenues
to the state which would go to the federal government.
extremely important to make a Wisconsin
will if you want to control the distribution of your estate. If you die without
a valid will, you are said to have died “intestate” and your property will be
distributed according to strict Wisconsin state laws. The net
estate (after paying debts, taxes, administrative costs, and funeral expenses)
of a decedent is distributed to the surviving spouse and other heirs in
adherence to Wisconsin state laws.
example, if you die leaving a spouse and 2 children, before you make a
Wisconsin will, the entire estate will go to the surviving husband or wife, if
the spouse is also the parent of those children. If, however, the children were
from another relationship, the surviving spouse would get ½ the estate plus any
marital property and the remainder of the estate will go to the surviving
children (1/4 each).
make a Wisconsin will, your valid will prevents
the laws of intestacy from deciding the distribution of your estate.