Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Wisconsin

Will executor contested

My widowed father passed away recently. My dad named one sibling executor of his estate more than 10 years ago. Now another sibling is contesting this sibling as executor due to a falling out among the family. What grounds does she have to contest, and what does she have to prove to get this changed? If my dad named the executor and nothing has been done to date other than follow the law (copies of the will were sent to all as well as a letter asking all to sign off having this person be executor), what can she contest? Nothing in the executor's personal history would suggest they would do anything other than follow the law. The only division of property done so far has been personal belongings and all were there at that time to take what they wanted. The estate has not even been settled due to a property sale that needs to conclude. What grounds does she have to contest the named executor, besides a family feud? I would also like to know why the named executor has to file all the papers and set all the hearings when she is contesting the appointment.

Asked on 5/04/09, 1:57 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Thomas Olson David F. Gram & Associates, LLC

Re: Will executor contested

Wisconsin law provides as follows:

856.21 Persons entitled to domiciliary letters. Letters shall be granted to one or more of the persons hereinafter mentioned, who are not disqualified, in the following order:

(1) The person named in the will to act as personal representative.

(2) Any person interested in the estate or the person's nominee within the discretion of the court.

(3) Any person whom the court selects.

856.23 Persons who are disqualified.

(1) A person including the person named in the will to act as personal representative is not entitled to receive letters if the person is any of the following:

(a) Under 18 years of age.

(b) Of unsound mind.

(c) A corporation not authorized to act as a fiduciary in this state.

(d) A nonresident of this state who has not appointed a resident agent to accept service of process in all actions or proceedings with respect to the estate and filed the appointment with the court.

(e) A person whom the court considers unsuitable for good cause shown.

(2) Nonresidency may be a sufficient cause for nonappointment or removal of a person in the court's discretion.

So, the person named in the will has the priority to be named as PR. And so long as he is otherwise qualified, the PR can be removed only for "good cause". So assuming the named PR is a resident and that he is mentally competent, the challenger would need to have solid evidence to show that the named PR is "unsuitable". This would be a difficult burden to satisfy.

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Answered on 5/04/09, 2:47 pm

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