My name is Tari Engels, and I am the Register in Probate for Iowa County. The Iowa County Probate Office is located at 222 N. Iowa St., Room 206, Dodgeville, WI 53533. The telephone number is (608) 935-0347.
The word “probate” describes the process of transferring certain property from a decedent to the heirs. Probate is not required in all deaths. Below are some questions you should answer before deciding if probate is required in your particular situation.
Is there a will? If there is a will, even if probate is not required, it must be filed with the Register in Probate within 30 days of the decedent’s death.
What assets does the decedent have? (ie. Real estate, stocks, bonds, bank accounts, vehicles).
How are the assets titled? (i.e. joint tenancy, solely owned, marital, payable on death).
What debts does the decedent have? (mortgage, credit cards, electric bill).
Who are the legal heirs and beneficiaries of the decedent?
Once the above questions are answered, they are used in determining the type of probate procedure that may be used. There are a number of probate procedures, including:
Transfer by Affidavit ($50,000 and Under). Transfer by Affidavit is used for solely owned property within this state valued under $50,000. Any heir may collect and transfer the solely owned assets by completing an affidavit in duplicate. The original form must be sent via certified mail to the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services. The signed return receipt, along with the duplicate form, must be presented to holder of the asset(s) 20 days after the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services has signed the return receipt. This is not filed with the circuit court.
Summary Settlement and Summary Assignment. These two types of probate are used when the decedent is survived by a spouse and/or minor child(ren) (Summary Settlement), or if there is no spouse (Summary Assignment). The value of the estate cannot exceed $50,000 after the expenses are paid. Summary Settlement does not require publication, but Summary Assignment does.
Termination of Joint Tenancy. This is a form of probate whereby the surviving joint tenant must free the joint property from any tax claims and has to get the property into his/her own name. This can be done in two ways. The first way is handled by attorneys and approved by the Court. The second way is by contacting the Register of Deeds office for a form entitled “Termination of Decedent’s Property Interest (HT-110)”. You may contact the Register of Deeds office at (608) 935-0396 for more information on this form.
Formal Probate. This may be used if the decedent has $50,000 or more of assets. An attorney must be used, and all hearings are held in front of the circuit court judge. An Inventory must be filed, a notice is published in the newspaper, and the court insures that the matter is completed in a timely and proper manner.
Informal Probate. Informal Probate may be used if there are $50,000 or more of assets, and the will does not prohibit its use. An attorney is not required but may be used. All parties must agree to use this procedure, and any party at any time may petition the court for Formal Administration (an attorney must be hired and all hearings are held in front of the circuit court judge). An Inventory must be exhibited, and a notice is published in the newspaper. The personal representative is responsible for making sure all aspects of the administration are completed in a timely and proper manner.