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Home | Wills & Estate Planning | Will | Wisconsin Will


Create a Wisconsin Will



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

Basic 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 will itself.

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.

Other 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 statutory requirements.

Purpose

Distribution of Property:

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.

Other Purposes of Wills:

  • 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.
Notable exceptions to the ability to distribute property:
  • Jointly owned property with the rights of survivorship automatically passes onto the survivor.
Survivorship 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.

Providing for Pets

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 valid.

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.

Revoking a Will

A Wisconsin will and testament, or any part thereof, can be revoked:

  • By a 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.
Revocation of a will in its entirety revokes its codicils, unless revocation of a codicil would be contrary to the testator's intent.

Probate and Estate Taxes

Probate 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:
  • Collecting, or taking possession of, the decedent's property.
  • Protecting and preserving the decedent's estate.
  • Paying all debts, claims and taxes.
  • Determining who is entitled to the assets and distributing the property according to the Wisconsin last will.
Estate Taxes

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.

Intestacy

It is 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.

For 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).

If you make a Wisconsin will, your valid will prevents the laws of intestacy from deciding the distribution of your estate.