CLEW Publications

Wisconsin's New Probate Code

By Professor Howard S. Erlanger

1998 Edition, 414 Pages, $35.00

Every Wisconsin lawyer handling probate matters will find this book invaluable in understanding how the new probate code changes probate practice.

Howard Erlanger served as the Drafting Committee's reporter. This book includes the Drafting Committee's Notes and also provides Professor Erlanger's explanation and analysis of the many changes, large and small, to probate practice that will become effective beginning in January 1999. His expertise and unique perspective enrich the value of this book for Wisconsin lawyers and will establish this book as a mainstay for researching and resolving issues arising under the new probate code.


  • A Brief History of the New Code
  • Focus on the Transferor's Intent
  • Probate and Nonprobate Rules
  • Effect of the Code on Preexisting Instruments
  • Possible Federal Preemption
  • The New Code and Routine Estate Planning


  • Core Intestacy Provisions - Who Are Heirs?
  • Ancillary Rules Unique to Intestacy
  • Negative Wills
  • Escheat
  • Not a United States Citizen
  • Debt Owed Decendent by Heir
  • Ancillary Rules Not Unique to Intestacy
  • Survivorship
  • Heir Who Kills Decendent
  • Representation
  • Nonmarital Child
  • Homestead Protection
  • Relatives of the Half Blood
  • Posthumous Heirs
  • Recipients Related by Two Lines
  • Adopted Children
  • Advancements
  • Disclaimer


  • Valid Execution
  • Strict Enforcement or "Substantial Compliance"?
  • Testator's Signature
  • Witnesses
  • Recommended Method of Executing a Will
  • Holographic Wills
  • Self-Proved Will
  • "Choice of Law" Issues
  • Omitted Spouse/Premarital Will
  • Omitted Children
  • Children Born or Adopted After Execution of the Will
  • Living Issue Omitted by Mistake
  • Power of Court to Assign Different Share
  • Revocation and Revival
  • Disposition of Tangible Personal Property
  • Contracts Concerning Succession
  • After-Acquired Property
  • Safekeeping of Wills
  • Required Period of Survivorship
  • Advancement
  • Ademption
  • Disclaimer
  • Antilapse
  • Gift of Securities
  • Basic Wills


  • Rules for Interpretation and Implementation of Governing Instruments
  • Survivorship
  • Representation
  • Nonexoneration of Encumbrances
  • Predeceased Transferee;
  • Failed Transfer and Residue
  • Nonademption of Specific Gifts
  • Advancement and Satisfaction
  • Gift of Securities
  • Beneficiary Who Kills Decedent
  • Revocation of Provisions in Favor of Former Spouse
  • Abatement
  • Status of Adopted Persons
  • Other Persons Included in Class Gifts and Family Groups
  • Form of Distribution for Transfers to Family Groups or Classes
  • Protection of Third Parties
  • Personal Liability of Recipients Not for Value
  • Choice of Law Issues
  • Disclaimers
  • Penalty Clause for Contest


  • The New Deferred Marital Property Election
  • Decedent's deferred marital property
  • Surviving spouse's deferred marital property
  • Exclusions from the deferred marital property augmented estate
  • Valuation issues
  • Satisfaction
  • Personal liability of "unentitled" recipients
  • Procedures for the election
  • Right of election by or on behalf of the surviving spouse
  • Waiver; Failure to Elect
  • Protection of "innocent third parties"


  • Definitions
  • Limitations of Claims Against Trusts
  • Exercise of Power of Appointment
  • "At-Death" Provisions in Marital Property Agreements
  • Classification of Property at Death


  • Wisconsin Probate Statutes (1997-98)
  • 1997 Wisconsin Act 188
  • Drafting Committee Notes to 1997 Wisconsin Act 188

About the Author

Howard S. Erlanger is a Voss-Bascom Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin Law School, where he teaches in the areas of wills, trusts and estates, probate, marital property, and estate planning. He has received several awards for his work in these areas. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, and his J.D. from the UW Law School. He is an Academic Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.

Professor Erlanger was thereporter for the State Bar committee that drafted the new probate code and is the authorof Wisconsin's new Probate Code: A Handbook for Practitioners, published by the UW LawSchool - Continuing Legal Education for Wisconsin.

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