Kenosha, WI asked in Estate Planning for Wisconsin

Q: I need to know if my sister was allowed to give my cousins money from our inheritance

No wills

Uncle Billy passed away estate years before my Uncle Bobby passed away. My mother inherited my uncle's bobbies estate because she was alive when he passed away So when my mother passed away my mother's inheritance from my uncle Bobby's estate went to her three children

My mother is part of my uncle's inheritance went to us three children

My sister was executor on the case so once his estate was all figured out and we all got our money I asked my sister where's the rest of the money she told me that she distributed between my Uncle Billy's three children, they got $12,000 each, and there's two other siblings. Got $12,000 each.

So that's quite a bit of money that she handed out to my Uncle Billy's kids but my Uncle Billy died before my Uncle Bobby died so how could my Uncle Billy who died years before my Uncle Bobby inherit any money.

Is my sister allowed to just hand out part of my brother and sisters inheritance to anybody

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1 Lawyer Answer
Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Eau Claire, WI
  • Licensed in Wisconsin

A: If both Uncle Billy and Uncle Bobby passed away without a Will, then the Estate of each one would be governed by the Wisconsin basic rules on intestate succession. Those rules are found here in Chapter 852.01. Under Chapter 852.01(2) there is a survivorship requirement, and that requirement is found in Wis. Stat 854.03 which says in part under subsection (1)  Requirement of survival. Except as provided in sub. (5), if property is transferred to an individual under a statute or under a provision in a governing instrument that requires the individual to survive an event and it is not established that the individual survived the event by at least 120 hours, the individual is considered to have predeceased the event.

If either of your Uncles had made a Will, then they could have altered the basic rules on intestate succession and said that the share that would go to a predeceased heir, is held for their children (in this instance your cousins). That is a fairly common practice in a Will or Trust. Furthermore, any assets that passed non-probate, like a payable on death bank account or life insurance policy may have had a contingent beneficiary provision that stated the proceeds should be paid to your cousins if their parent predeceased them, and this would be dictated by the terms of that beneficiary designation itself. However, if neither of them made a Will the scenario you are laying out above does not seem to square with the intestate provisions of the statutes. I would discuss with the Personal Representative under what authority they distributed the funds. If there was no Will, the Estate should have been administered under the supervision of the probate court.

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