Personal Representative

What should I know about being personal representative?
First of all, a statement in a will about who should serve as personal representative does not automatically allow you to start performing the duties of a personal representative; the statement in the will is merely a nomination by the decedent. The Court must appoint you before you assume the duties of a personal representative. The document that shows others you are appointed is Domiciliary Letters.

Serving as personal representative is a VERY important job. You will be required to take an oath that you will uphold the law and you may be required to post a bond to protect the assets in the estate if you do not do your job appropriately. You must keep all interested parties informed of the status of the estate proceedings and complete the estate in a timely fashion.

For all practical purposes, a personal representative is acting in place of the decedent. You are expected to handle the assets of the decedent just as any prudent person would handle their own assets.

Your duties will include taking possession of all the decedent’s assets and filing an inventory including the date of death values of all assets you have in your control (the inventory must be filed within 6 months of the filing of the Petition for Administration). You will be starting a checking account where you can keep accurate records of income and expenses. You will give notice to creditors and may give notice to interested persons by publication in the newspaper. (The Dodgeville Chronicle is the official Iowa County newspaper.)

You may be liquefying assets, selling real estate, running a business, insuring and keeping property in good repair. You will collect any income due to the decedent like interest, dividends, rent, etc. You will pay bills, settle proper claims or object to claims that are not appropriate.

There may be final and fiduciary tax returns to complete. You may be required to file a closing certificate for fiduciaries from the Department of Revenue. You are encouraged to utilize the services of a competent tax preparer or an attorney to help you with this aspect of the estate.

You may be required to file a final accounting showing all money that came in to the estate between the date of death and distribution and all money that went out of the estate. You will distribute assets according to the will and/or statues and secure receipts from those receiving assets.

What will the Register in Probate do to help the personal representative probate the estate?
She will:

a. Provide the probate forms, for a fee;

  1. Check papers filed for accuracy and completeness;
  2. Appoint the personal representative (for informal administration);
  3. Admit or deny the will to probate (for informal administration);
  4. Set bond for personal representative (for informal administration);
  5. Issue Domiciliary Letters (for informal administration).

(All forms may be found on the internet, site  )

She cannot and will not:

  1. Give legal advice;
  2. Complete forms for you;
  3. Gather information about the estate or its assets;
  4. Give you tax information or advice.

FEES: All fees are in accord with Section 814.66 of the Wisconsin Statutes.
There is a filing fee for probate. If the deceased has assets of $10,000 or less, the fee is $20.00. If the deceased has over $10,000 in assets, the fee is .2% of the gross estate, less any liens. I.E., if a ward has $55,000 in assets, the fee is $110.00 ($55,000 x .002).

If the Register in Probate makes any copies for you, a $1.00 per page copy fee will be imposed. A certification is $3.00.

- A creditor has 3 months from the date the Notice of Creditors is signed to file a claim against the estate.
- The inventory must be filed within 6 months of the filing of the Petition for Administration.
- An estate must be closed within 12 months of the filing of the Petition for Administration, unless the personal representative petitions the court for additional time in which to close the estate.


 Beneficiary  : A person named in the will to receive an interest in property from a decedent; sometimes referred to as legatee.

 Bequest and Devise  : Used in a will to grant an interest in property.

 Codicil  : A written document made by the deceased changing an existing will.

 Decedent  : The one who has died whose estate is subject to administration.

 Heir  : A person, including a surviving spouse, who under state law is entitled to an interest in property of the decedent.

 Interested Person  : Includes one or more of the following: 1) an heir of the deceased if named in the will or not; 2) a beneficiary named in the will which may include a beneficiary of a trust and a nominated trustee; 3) the personal representative named in the will.

 Intestate  : An estate left by a person who died without a will. Distribution of assets follows the statutes of intestate succession.

 Issue  : Children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.

 Per Stirpes  : Property is divided into equal shares for the decedent’s children; children of a deceased child share their parent’s share (i.e. by right of representation).

 Personal Representative  : A person nominated in a will to administer estate affairs in probate proceedings; sometimes known as executor (male) or executrix (female).

 Probate  : A court-supervised process to: 1) transfer assets of a decedent to heirs or beneficiaries; 2) determine and pay federal and state taxes; and 3) give notice to creditors.

 Probate Registrar  : The administrative officer appointed in each county to supervise informal probate.

 Testate  : An estate left by a person who died with a will. Distributions of assets follow the will.

 Testamentary Trust  : An arrangement outlined in a will in which one party (sometimes a bank) holds and distributes property for the benefit of another.

 Will  : A document properly executed prior to death that directs distribution of property after death, nominates who will care for and distribute property. It may nominate someone to care for minor children and/or handle assets in a testamentary trust.

General Information
Phone Numbers
(608) 935-0347
Emergencies: Dial 911
222 N. Iowa St.
Room 2201

8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Monday - Friday