Wisconsin State Law Library

Serving the Wisconsin Supreme Court and State of Wisconsin

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April 21, 2020

Find wills and estate planning information

There are a number of sources for assembling an estate plan and health care plan. Here are some quick sources to get you started:

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Through the end of this week (April 25), the State Bar of Wisconsin is offering free access to their guide, A Gift to Your Family: Planning Ahead for Future Health Needs.

The UW Extension also provides free access to a guide called Family Estate Planning in Wisconsin

Power of Attorney

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has forms for advanced directives on their website. Both forms include an instruction page.
We link to a Power of Attorney Delegating Parental Power from the Marathon County Register in Probate. Read the statutory form language here: 

For more resources, see our Power of Attorney page.


The Wisconsin Statutes contains form language for two basic wills: the Wisconsin Basic Will and the Wisconsin Basic Will with Trust.
On our Wills & Trusts page we link to a Statutory Basic Will with Trust  from the Marquette Legal Clinic. You can also order a Wisconsin Basic Will from our library. We resell the Wisconsin Basic Will printed by the Wisconsin Legal Blank company. To order from our library, follow these steps:
  1. Wisconsin Basic Wills cost $15.83 with tax, or $15 for out of state orders. Wisconsin residents and non-tax-exempt businesses must pay cost plus tax.
  2. Calculate the total cost of the forms you want. A single $3.00 handling fee is added to each mailed request. An order for one (1) Wisconsin Basic Will form will total $18.83.
  3. Choose a payment method:
    • Check or Money Order
      • Do not send cash in the mail.
      • Mail your payment, the form name(s), and your mailing address to:

        Wisconsin State Law Library
        Attn: Document Delivery Service
        P.O. Box 7881
        Madison, WI 53707-7881

        Check or money orders are payable to Wisconsin State Law Library

Wisconsin Legal Blank also sells print and downloadable versions. Sometimes local office supply stores may also sell legal forms.

Ask Us!

Ask a librarian for help! Email us at wsll.ref@wicourts.gov or use our online contact form.

April 20, 2020

Happy National Library Week!

April 19-25 is National Library Week, and while many things have changed since we first started making plans for this week, a lot remains the same.

Get help

Email us at wsll.ref@wicourts.gov or fill out our online form to ask us your questions. Our librarians answer emails Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

While our libraries are closed, we are committed to helping you get access to the information you need.

Access trusted information

Our website has always been a reliable source of information, with hundreds of topics covered in our Legal Topics A-Z  and blog.

Access databases like HeinOnline and Index to Legal Periodicals with a library card from the State Law Library. Sign up for a library card on our website!

While our libraries are closed, we can help you by providing copies from our print collection. Send us an email and tell us what you need.

Governor authority and health emergencies

The Governor is authorized to declare emergencies under Wisconsin Statute section 323.10, a general statute on emergency government which specifically allows the Governor to declare an emergency in response to public health crises.

The Governor declared this emergency through Executive Order #72 on March 12, 2020. In this order, the Governor designated the Department of Health Services as the lead agency in handling the emergency, which is also specifically authorized by the statute.

Many of the actions taken in this emergency situation have been accomplished by orders of the Secretary of Health Services citing the authority of Executive Order #72, most notably the “Safer at Home” order requiring citizens to remain at home to the highest degree possible, with a list of exceptions - also referred to as Emergency Order #12. The current Secretary is a designee, appointed but not confirmed by the senate.

The Governor’s emergency power is not specifically granted by the Wisconsin Constitution but it is granted statutorily at Section 323.10. The Governor has the constitutional authority, in the event of “danger from the prevalence of contagious disease at the seat of government, to convene [the legislature] at any other suitable place within the state." (Wisconsin Constitution Article V section 4)

Emergency powers were first granted as a civil defense measure in 1960 (Chapter 628, Laws of 1959). A provision specifically granting the Governor a right to declare public health emergencies was added in 2002 (2001 Wisconsin Act 109, section 340j). This act was based on a model act that appeared to be geared toward a response to bio-terrorism events following terrorist attacks in 2001. The law provided a broad definition of public health emergency that allows the executive emergency power to be applied to non-terrorist public health events.

Wisconsin’s emergency statute specifies that a declaration of emergency expires 60 days after it is issued; the emergency can only be extended by a joint resolution of the Legislature. The Legislature also has the authority to terminate the emergency declaration by joint resolution.

April 13, 2020

Economic income payments (Coronavirus stimulus payments)

Coronavirus tax relief is in the news right now. Here's where to find out more:

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Information about economic income payments, also known as coronavirus stimulus payments, is quickly being added.
  • Economic Income Payments (US Internal Revenue Service)
    Also known as coronavirus stimulus payments, this page includes information about what to expect. As of this blog post, a feature to check for payment status and add bank account information is due to be added in mid-April.
  • Non-filers of taxes and economic income payments (US Internal Revenue Service)
    How to file to receive an economic income payment if you did not file Federal taxes for 2019.

For more information and updates, check in with our Coronavirus (COVID-19) research page

April 3, 2020

Verifying information in a time of rapid change

A few years ago we wrote about resources for recognizing "fake news" and tips for critically reading information sources. As information about COVID-19 rapidly changes, it's helpful to check in on strategies for spotting misinformation and scams.

Spotting Scams

Wisconsin has created some quick guidelines for avoiding charity scams, including research tips and questions to ask the charity. Learn more and find complaint resources here: Reporting of Potential COVID-19 Charity Scams

Several federal agencies have warnings and tips about coronavirus scams. See:

Fake News

Here are some resources to help you spot fake news and misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic:

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