Avoiding Probate for Small Estates


For a number of years it has been possible for the assets of a deceased individual to be transferred without probate to an heir at law, if the heir provides an affidavit establishing that the person died with very few assets. This procedure has been used many times by families of individuals who either had very few assets at the time of their death, or who had made arrangements for the transfer of most of their assets, but had missed a handful of relatively modest investments.

The legislature expanded the availability of this procedure by amending Wis. Stat. § 867.03, which increased the limit on the amount of assets that can be transferred in this way from $20,000.00 to $50,000.00. The procedure is also available to the Trustee of a revocable trust, as well as an heir at law and a guardian of the person who died. Because the amount of assets subject to this procedure is now more substantial, the legislature also specified that the person who signed the affidavit has the obligation to use the assets for the payment of creditors and to distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries under the Will or trust, or to the heirs at law if no such document exists.