Yes. Court records are available online at http://wcca.wicourts.gov/index.xsl. Probate records are open to the public. The record will show the name and case number of the estate, the name and the address of the personal representative, the name of the attorney, if any, any scheduled activities, and what has been filed to date. Older probate records not on this website may be available at the office of the Register in Probate or at the State Historical Society website.
What do I have to do when someone dies?
If the decedent left a Will, it must be filed with the Probate office within 30 days of death even if no probate proceeding is required. Some county Registers in Probate have a form you can fill out; contact the specific county or you can access their website through the Directory button on the left hand side of this page. If a probate proceeding will be initiated, file the original Will with those documents. If there was no Will, the statutes outline a priority system, called "intestate succession", which determines how the decedent's assets will be distributed.
How can I access standard court forms?
Standard, statewide forms are required by all Wisconsin circuit courts. Forms can be obtained in person from the Register in Probate office. A small fee may be charged. Forms can also be obtained online at Wisconsin Court System - Circuit court forms.
Do I need a lawyer?
A lawyer is not required for Informal Probate or other proceedings. You may seek advice or the services of an attorney at any point during the process. A lawyer is required, however for Formal Probate proceedings. Probate office staff cannot give legal advice.
How can I file a claim against an estate?
There is a $3 filing fee to file a claim against an estate. Form-1819 Claim Against Estate is available online or from the Register in Probate office. There is a time limit for filing a claim based on when the probate action was started. You can check the court file in person or preview the case record on the internet to find out the claims deadline for a particular case.
What does the personal representative do?
The Personal Representative (PR) is the person nominated to administer the decedent's assets in an Informal or Formal proceeding. The PR cannot assume the duties until the Court appoints the PR. Duties and responsibilities include making an inventory of and managing the decedent's property; paying debts, administrative expenses and taxes and distributing the property to the heirs or beneficiaries. The PR has the duty to protect the property of the estate, administer and distribute estate assets in a diligent and timely manner according to statutory deadlines and file required tax returns for the decedent.
If the decedent did not leave a Will and a probate is required, the rules of Intestate Succession apply. See Chapter 852 of the Wisconsin Statutes by clicking here.
How do I get a Domiciliary Letter?
Domiciliary Letters are issued by the probate court either upon the filing of all required documents with the Probate Registrar for an informal proceeding, or after a hearing before the Circuit Judge or Probate Court Commissioner in a formal probate proceeding. The Domiciliary Letters show that the probate court has given the authority to the named personal representative to act on behalf of the estate of the decedent and to perform all duties required to administer the estate according to statute.
Please note that even though a person is nominated in a decedent’s will as personal representative, they do not have the authority to act until Domiciliary Letters have been granted to them by the probate court.
Also, not all probate proceedings require Domiciliary Letters to release the property/funds.
What costs are involved?
Click on the Other tab on the left of this page for the probate fee schedule.
This webpage is provided as a public service and is not intended to be legal advice. If you have any questions about the information on this webpage, please contact an attorney.