Small Estates In Wisconsin

Jun 27, 2019


When a family member passes away there are so many emotions to deal with; the last thing you want to be worrying about is their estate and a lengthy court process. Unfortunately, it is something that cannot be ignored. The good news, in the State of Wisconsin, if someone passes away with assets of $50,000 or less, you do not need to go through the entire probate process.


First thing that needs to be done is to figure out what assets are part of the Estate. Before your loved one passed away they may have used proper estate planning techniques to help avoid probate. Below are examples of assets that are normally outside of the estate and therefore, are considered to be non-estate assets.

Jointly-owned bank accounts or Investment Accounts

Bank accounts or Investment Accounts with a Payable on Death beneficiary

Life Insurance proceeds that name a beneficiary

Real Estate that has a Transfer on Death Deed

Assets held in a Revocable Trust or Irrevocable Trust

Jointly-titled Vehicles

Non-estate assets are not included in the $50,000 probate asset limit.


If the assets of the Estate do not exceed $50,000, it is not necessary to probate the estate. The three most common types of estate administration for estates that have a value of less than $50,000 are listed below.

Summary Settlement

A Summary Settlement proceeding can be used whether or not there is a surviving spouse or minor children as long as the value of the estate can not exceed certain costs, expenses, allowances and claims. Legal documents for Summary Settlement will need to be drafted and filed with the probate court.

Summary Assignment

A Summary Assignment was designed to assist in settlement of small estates that cannot be settled by a Summary Settlement. Legal documents for Summary Assignment will need to be drafted and filed with the probate court.

Transfer By Affidavit

A Transfer by Affidavit can be used by heirs to transfer assets without court supervised administration. The person who completes the Affidavit has certain legal responsibilities. Transfer By Affidavit is the most common way to settle small estates in Wisconsin.


No matter the size of the estate you are dealing with, it can be overwhelming while you are dealing with the loss of your loved one. Having an experienced and responsive attorney helping you through the process can make all the difference. Pedersen Law Office, LLC offers free consults in all of our areas of practice and will meet with you personally to discuss your specific circumstances and see what options are right for you. Our law office serves the communities of Appleton, Neenah, Menasha, Oshkosh, Green Bay and their surrounding areas.

Category: Wills & Trusts

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