Assist the public with filing adoptions and step-parent adoptions without assistance of counsel. Our assistance is limited to procedure.  Remember we cannot give legal advice.  Forms are available on Wisconsin Court system website.  While Manitowoc County will allow you to file without an attorney, this is not true in many other counties. Check with your local court before proceeding.

Maintain all permanent adoption and adoptive placement files, including voluntary terminations of parental rights accompanying a step-parent adoption.  Appoint Guardian ad Litem when required and recover fees from adoptive parents.

Civil Commitments
Upon notification of a detention, prepare necessary pleadings for initial hearing.  If subject is held for further proceedings, arrange for psychiatric evaluations in adult and juvenile alcoholic, mental health and drug dependent commitments.  Seek reimbursement of attorney fees from subjects able to pay.

Estates and Trusts - General
Assist attorneys and the public with probate procedures, without providing legal advice.  Audit and approve/disapprove estate inventories and accountings.  Review all documents prior to filing, rejecting any which are not complete.  Collect appropriate filing fees.  Appoint Guardian ad Litem when required.

A list of commonly incurred statutory fees.  The complete list can be found in Section 814.66, Wisconsin Statutes.

The office maintains a supply of forms required for proceedings in probate court for attorneys and citizens in need of the same.  Forms are also available from the Wisconsin Court system website.  The office of the Register in Probate also has some forms required by other agencies in the cases it handles.

Guardianships - General
The Probate Office will provide general assistance to attorneys and the public with guardianship, conservatorship and protective placement procedures, including those involving juveniles.  However, we cannot give legal advice.  If a petition can be filed without the assistance of a lawyer, forms are available.  The forms can be found on the Wisconsin Court system website.  At time of initial petition and for annual reviews, the Register appoints a Guardian ad Litem and adversary counsel if required.  The office is directed to collect reimbursement of fees paid to said persons by the County.  Staff members review guardianship and conservatorship inventories and annual accountings.  The offices collects the appropriate filing fees upon filing of an inventory in guardianship matters.

For estates over $50,000, you must complete probate administration using either Formal or Informal procedures.  Informal may be filed by anyone but only lawyers may file Formal Probate procedures.  Probate requires many forms which can be obtained at our office or online at the Wisconsin Court Forms Website.  We require self-represented petitioners to make an appointment prior to accepting documents for an informal probate.  There are fees for this process.  We have a guidebook to help you complete the forms and decide whether to use this process.  The booklet is $10.00 (tax included).  Add $2.90 to receive by mail.  The guidebook is available online.

Probate - A Pending Case
You can search for cases filed in Manitowoc County on the internet at Wisconsin Circuit Court Access. Once there, if you do not understand how it works, please feel free to call and we can walk you through it.

Probate - Affidavit for Transfer of Property
This is a simple procedure used for small estates valued at less than $50,000. The form is available in our office or on-line (Form PR-1831).  You may complete it on your own.  It need not be filed with our office.  This form is presented to the holder of property who must then release the property to the heir, trustee or guardian in accordance with the law.

Probate - Summary Proceedings
Additional options for estates less than $50,000.

Some small estates might not be suitable for an Affidavit.  You could file a full probate or use one of the following procedures.

Summary Settlement used:
(a) when there is a surviving spouse or minor child or
(b) when the debts exceed the value of the estate.  Forms are available in the office or online at Wisconsin Court Forms.  This procedure may be completed without a lawyer.  Please call us before you begin.  Fees may apply.

Summary Assignment used when Summary Settlement cannot be.  Forms are in the office or online at Wisconsin Court Forms.  This procedure may be completed without a lawyer.  Please call us before you begin.  Fees may apply.

Probate - What do I need to do?
To decide, find out everything you can about the person's assets - real estate, bank accounts, and insurance - anything of value and call us.  We will ask questions to help you decide your next step.  However, we cannot give legal advice.  If the value subject to administration is less than $50,000, you may be able to use an affidavit for transfer; though in some situations it may be necessary or more appropriate to use another procedure.  If over $50,000, a full probate is required.  Any of these can be done without the assistance of a lawyer.  To find out more, call us.

The Personal Representative's Guide to Probate will help you work through these questions.  Available in the office - just $10.00 (tax included) or online at the Wisconsin Registers in Probate Association website.

Record Maintenance
The office maintains all probate court records for Manitowoc County.  In the event of an appeal, the office is charged with the duty to prepare the record for the Court of Appeals.  As part of the Wisconsin Court System, office's activities are reported to the Director of State Courts.  State law provides for mandatory retention requirements of up to 100 years for some case types and permanent records for adoptions; compliance requires extensive storage and cataloging facilities.