Generally, no. However, there are two common situations involving a will where a bond is still required:
- Where the named (and proposed) personal representative is not a resident of Wisconsin; and/or
- Where the proposed personal representative is not the named (or an alternatively named) personal representative in the will.
Please note that if the will specifically requires a bond, or is silent or ambiguous about bond, a bond will still be required.
Yes. Bonds are required for all informal probates which do not have a will.
Not if the bank meets the requirements of Wis. Stats. §856.25(1) “…no bond shall be required of any trust company bank, state bank or national banking association which is authorized to exercise trust powers and which has complied with s. 220.09 or 223.02.” A sworn statement that the bank meets these requirements should accompany the application for informal probate.
The Deputy Registers will always accept a bond in the full estimated amount of the estate. Please note that the court may require an additional bond if the inventory indicates a substantially greater amount than the petition. Bond may be lowered if the inventory indicates a substantially smaller amount than the amount of the bond, upon a petition to the court.
Heirs (beneficiaries) may pledge their share of the estate as excess surety to reduce the bond, pursuant to Wis. Stats. §856.25(3). However, if bond is required, the minimum bond is a $10,000 bond. Therefore, even if all heirs (beneficiaries) pledge their share of the estate, a $10,000 bond will be required. Please note that the Deputy Registers do not generally allow Guardians ad Litem to pledge the shares of minors or incompetent heirs (beneficiaries).
There is no Wisconsin court form for heirs (beneficiaries) to pledge their shares. You may include the language “I pledge my share of the estate as excess surety” on the “Other” line of the standard Waiver and Consent form. Some attorneys prefer to draw up their own “Pledge of Shares” document. Either is acceptable.
There is no required bonding company to use. There are currently two bond companies that rent space in our office and you may call the probate office at (414) 278- 4444 for their contact information or stop into the probate office to talk to them. But you may use any company that will issue a standard probate surety bond.
You can contact the probate office at (414) 278-4444 and ask to speak to a deputy register. Additionally, these guidelines are for informal probate cases. You always have the option of filing for formal probate and setting a hearing in front of the assigned probate judge.