Monday, September 26, 2011

When a Wisconsin Estate is Valued at $50,000 or Less

In the State of Wisconsin, if a person dies with a probate estate of $50,000 or less, probate can be avoided by using a Transfer by Affidavit form. The key to using this technique is to accurately determine that the decedent's probate estate was $50,000 or less. To do this you need to classify assets as either probate (meaning there was no label indicating what should happen to an asset upon death) or non-probate (meaning there IS a label, or beneficiary form, disposing of the asset upon death). Next, you need to determine the fair market value of the probate assets on the date of death. Common types of non-probate methods include, but are not limited to:
  • transfer on death deed;
  • trust;
  • Pay on Death card (POD);
  • Transfer on Death card (TOD); and
  • joint ownership with the right of survivorship.
My first step in handling a probate file is to make this determination. It can mean the difference between a relatively easy transaction or heading down the lengthy path of probate.

This post is not intended to provide legal advice, but rather educate readers on estate planning concepts. It should not replace consulting an attorney, licensed in your state.

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