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Probate & Trust 

When someone passes away, their estate needs to be administered so that it complies with their estate plan, Wisconsin law, and tax regulations. Grieving family members are often overwhelmed just with the death of their loved one, and do not need the added burden of deciphering legal and tax procedures.

Trust administration handles a decedent’s affairs if they had a trust at the time of their death. Probate administration handles their affairs if they did not have a trust in place at the time of their death. If you are unsure what any of this means, do not worry, we’re here to help walk you and your family through the administration to alleviate any concerns or questions you or your family may have.

We always strive to maintain family harmony and unity in these difficult times to avoid conflicts from appearing or growing into difficult situations. It is important for everyone to understand that each person grieves in a different way.

There may be difficult emotions to process, changing financial situations, varying living arrangements, and uncertainty; all of which can lead to people acting differently than normal, increasing the chances of intrafamily conflict.

The death of my mother was difficult. There was not just the obvious feelings of loss, but the new experience and responsibility of being her personal representative. Swendson Hentz Law Ltd. guided and protected me with a steady, compassionate hand. There is nothing like the comfort of knowing you have a personal family attorney.

Mr. P

How We Help Facilitate Probate 

Probate is the administrative or court process for transferring ownership of assets after death and settling the affairs of someone who dies.  It takes between 6 to 18 months to complete. Courts will grant extensions of the time for probate when necessary.  It is time consuming, has many court-imposed strict deadlines, and is often a complicated process.

For Personal Representatives

If you are the personal representative who has the responsibility and personal liability for properly administering the estate, we can represent you and advise you on your powers, duties, and responsibilities. We serve as a guide as you follow the will as well as state and federal laws. We can also help gather the necessary information, resolve all claims against the estate, file the necessary tax returns, complete the administrative and court documents, and facilitate the distribution of the decedent’s property.

For Beneficiaries

If you are a beneficiary who will receive a benefit under the terms of the Will, we can represent you and your interests. We will help you review and understand the probate documents and resolve any conflicts during the probate of the estate.

 

How We Help Facilitate Trust Administration

Trust administration is the way in which a trustee of a trust holds, protects, invests and distributes trust income and assets.  Trustees must follow the trust and the pertinent state and federal laws.  Trustees are held to a high standard of conduct because they are handling other people’s money.  Consequently, trustees face the risk of personal liability.

For Trustees

If you are appointed as the trustee, we can advise you on your duties/powers and counsel you on all aspects of your obligations including communication with courts, beneficiaries, and others. When a trust provision is vague, we can help you obtain clarification from the court and/or waivers from the beneficiaries.  We also assist you in all aspects of tax return preparation for the trust.

For Beneficiaries:

If you are a beneficiary who will receive a benefit under the terms of the Will, we can represent you, assist in making requests for distributions, and review trust accountings and notices.  We represent your interests in any litigation that results.

Probate & Trust Disputes

Breach of Fiduciary Duty

After death, the individual appointed as a fiduciary (i.e. personal representative or trustee) has a duty to administer the trust according to the trust and in accordance with Wisconsin law. The fiduciary has the duty to defend the documents and act for the benefit of all beneficiaries. Breach of fiduciary duty include failing to provide required tax information, improperly using the trust for the fiduciary’s personal benefit, failing to file tax returns, improperly distributing assets to beneficiaries, failure to distribute assets, etc. Regardless of whether the breach of fiduciary duty was intentional or not, we can help you hold the fiduciary accountable to their duties and the trust. 

Trust & Will Contests

A trust contest is a type of lawsuit that is filed to object to the validity of a trust and/or will. The validity of a trust and/or will is typically challenged when the will/trust was not signed by the individual, the individual making the will/trust lacked the necessary capacity, the person making the trust was unduly influenced into signing it, or the trust was procured by fraud. Ideally, we would help file your trust accurately and in accordance with regulations so that the validity cannot be challenged at a later date. If a trust contest arises, we will work with you to resolve the issue and avoid the worst-case scenario of a trust being declared invalid.

Asset Disputes

Sometimes the fiduciary and beneficiaries may interpret the will and/or trust differently, which gives rise to set asset disputes and conflict.  Regardless if it is a legitimate concern of family members or an attempt by a beneficiary to improve their benefit, we will help you resolve this conflict while best adhering to the deceased’s wishes. 

Probate & Trust Resources

Contact Us for a Consultation

Probate Questionnaire/Trust Administration Questionnaire and bring in the decedent’s original estate planning documents (will, trust, marital property agreement, etc.).