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Which type of probate proceeding is best?

While smaller estates have shortened probate options, most people must choose between two types of administrations.

Choosing the right process for your family may prevent conflicts and save expenses. To help you choose what's best, here are a few of the differences between the informal and formal proceedings.

Informal Administration

Informal probate proceedings are the most common in Wisconsin because they carry fewer financial and time restraints. With this method, an elected personal representative, also called an executor of a will, is left to take charge of settling the contester's estate.

This can be very challenging, as insurance, debt and assets all rest in the personal representative’s hands. However, an attorney can be elected to guide the personal representative through his or her duties. This way, the lack of the court’s supervision will not result in any mishaps or mistakes. Additionally, the Probate Registrar will serve as a secondary source of supervision through the process.

However, the informal administration can lead to problems in some situations. For example, conflict can spur if the personal representative is irresponsible in following his or her duties adequately or if beneficiaries have disagreements over the way that assets are handled. Families may also have no choice in using the informal method if the individual who passed did not elect a personal representative in a will.

Formal Administration

Formal administration is much more structured that information administration. Matters concerning the settlement of the estate will be brought forth to a formal circuit court.

This process is oftentimes longer and more costly due to the number and length of court sessions required. The result may be that beneficiaries are left with less to inherit. However, decisions may also seem more fiar because there is less subjective discretion left to the personal representative.

Get advice for your estate settlement

If you need help settling an estate or believe you are not getting the inheritance you’re entitled to, address your concerns with a qualified, skilled estate planning attorney. An attorney can help you settle probate issues and advise you on how best to handle your own estate plan too.

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