Wisconsin: Every Legal, Medical, and Estate Planning Document You Need

Here's a complete guide to every critical medical, legal, and estate planning document and relevant state law for Wisconsin. Download these forms and get started with Pillar to organize all of your most important documents in one safe, secure, easy-to-use online storage solution

February 2, 2021

Most people tend to neglect the importance of state laws and forms, but it's actually state laws that usually have the biggest impact on your everyday life. This guide is the best place to start as you learn and gain valuable experience about Wisconsin’s laws.

We’ve even created a complete list of the most important documents you need for your medical, legal, and estate planning and enjoy your lifetime at the Badger State. 

Essential Wisconsin Medical State Laws & Forms

How to Get Your Medical Records in Wisconsin 

Wisconsin law requires all health care providers to keep medical records for each patient and preserve those records for at least 5 years. All medical records requests for the hospitals, surgery centers, community centers and clinics specified in Wisconsin are processed by the Health Information Management (HIM) department.

Wisconsin legislation also lets you to request your medical records for your own personal use from healthcare professionals, employers or associations.

Learn more about your medical record rights

Wisconsin Advance Directive Forms & Laws

An advance directive is a suite of legal documents that outlines your medical wishes should you become unable to express your wishes to your health care provider, an advance directive is a document that outlines your wishes. An "advance directive" is a document that gives another entity the power to act on your behalf during your lifetime. The most prevalent kinds of directives are: 

Living will is a document that establishes the form and length of medical care you intend to receive if you have a terminal disease. When you become ill, a health care proxy gives a third party (proxy) the right to make your medical decisions.

You can download the health care directive here.

How to Become an Organ Donor in Wisconsin

Wisconsin has an online donor registry that makes it easier than ever to approve donations of organs, tissues and eyes. Launched by the State Department of Health Care, the registry would help decrease the number of children and adults waiting in Wisconsin for a life-saving or life-changing transplant.

To register, Wisconsin residents must be at least 15½ years old. Individuals with an orange donor dot on their license or state I.D can sign up and even register online or with the Department of Transportation/Motor Vehicles Division.

Essential Wisconsin Legal and Estate Planning Documents & Forms

Wisconsin State Trusts Laws

A living trust is one of several estate-planning tools. A trust is an agreement in which one person, called a trustee, holds another person's legal title to the property, called a beneficiary. You can be the executor of your own trust in life, having complete ownership over all trust-held property.

The new Wisconsin Trust Code (WTC) amends the law that governs trusts created before July 1, 2014, after and, in many respects. This new, expansive legislation makes Wisconsin a far more attractive place to manage trusts and provides Wisconsin citizens with excellent planning opportunities.

The WTC is a default statute, which ensures that you can circumvent the WTC in your confidence (in most instances) if you do not like what the WTC offers. If you do not override the WTC's confidence, the default rules of the WTC will apply.

Check out how to make a living trust in Wisconsin. 

Wisconsin Digital Estate Planning Laws

After an individual dies, digital assets are treated similarly to other property investment. Therefore, if the deceased does not have a will, as they do with all estates without a will, intestacy laws extend to digital property. However, a problem with engaging with digital property is that survivors are often unaware of digital property, especially if there was no will.

The Digital Property Act of Wisconsin was signed into law in April 2016 to help share properties that include digital property. In part 4, the Act lets private representatives and fiduciaries obtain access to the deceased's digital property. It also helps to treat digital property close to the physical property through courts and practitioners. Should the deceased have a will, the disposition of all properties, including digital property, should be clearer. To know more, check out the AB 695 Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act. This offers a process for a custodian of digital assets to reveal information about digital assets when demanded by a fiduciary who needs access to the information to execute fiduciary duties.

Wisconsin Probate and Tax Laws

Probate is when the properties of an individual who passes on (the deceased) are transferred to the persons entitled to inherit them. This process affirms the will of the individual and distributes property as specified by the will.

The estate will also enter the probate process if the deceased left no will or other legal arrangement to transfer assets upon death. Probate matters in Wisconsin are addressed at the local court level and usually takes about six months.

How to Get a Death Certificate in Wisconsin

Death records, such as the name of the deceased, the date of death, and the place of death, can be found in person or by post by supplying the basic details of the record.

You can request a completed Death Application Form in person or by mail for a $20 fee for the original document and $3 for every additional copy of the same document ordered at the same time. A government-issued photo I.D. must be included in requests for approved copies. The mailing address/location of the office is:

Wisconsin Vital Records Office
P.O. Box 309
Madison, WI 53701

Death records are usually presumed to be public information in Wisconsin and are thus accessible upon request to members of the public. However, the sensitive recorded information can be limited to authorized individuals, including registrants, first-degree relationships, legal representatives, and authorized government officials.

Usually, extended death facts, such as the cause of death, the manner of death, the results of an autopsy and the final disposition, are only available for 50 years to these named qualifying persons; after which they become public information.

How to Set Up a Will (And a Living Will) in Wisconsin?

A will also called a "last will and testament," is a written document that enables you to decide who will obtain your property and who will raise your kids after you die while they are still minors.

You must sign or admit it in front of two witnesses for your will to be valid in Wisconsin, and those witnesses must sign the will within a reasonable period after you sign or admit the will in front of them. In general, at least one of the witnesses is required by Wisconsin law to make a sworn declaration that the will is valid in a court hearing. The court can consider testimony from others concerning your last will's validity if none of the witnesses can be located.

Wisconsin Estate and Inheritance Tax Laws and Rates

Wisconsin is one of 38 states that does not charge an estate tax. Often denoted to as the "death tax," the estate tax is collected until the assets in the estate are dispersed to a person's legally appointed heirs. 

Wisconsin also does not have a state inheritance tax, although you may owe federal taxes on an inheritance.

How to Organize Your Most Important Documents

Life can be complicated, no matter where you live. Together, these laws and forms can help you make informed  health and financial decisions for you and your loved ones.

Create your customized account with Pillar and safely scan, store, and even share all of your most important medical, financial, and legal documents from one secure online cloud storage solution so you have everything you need for all of life's biggest moments.

Start your free 14-day trial and let Pillar help make the complicated stuff a little easier to manage.