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If you are here to learn about Minnesota probate after the passing of a loved one, we first want to say that we are very sorry for your loss.  We hope that the information you find on this page will simplify any legal and administrative headaches you might otherwise face during such a difficult time.

With that said, probate in Minnesota can be either formal or informal.  Formal probate may involve a probate Judge.  These procedures help to ensure the legal transfer of assets from the deceased to the rightful heirs or beneficiaries.  In Probate Court it is also necessary to:

  • Prove the validity of the will
  • Appoint someone to manage the estate (the “personal representative” )
  • Inventory and appraise the estate property
  • Pay any debts or taxes (including estate taxes)
  • Distribute the property as direct by the will—or by the state law if there is no will

In Minnesota, if someone has $75,000 or more in total assets or real property not owned in joint tenancy or placed in a trust, they will probably have to have their assets probated.  We have a few tools to avoid probate.

What's so bad about probate in Minnesota... and what should I do next?

You may have heard that probate is bad news.  It tends to be very expensive, it's time-consuming, and it's also a public process.

The easiest way to avoid the probate process is to plan; but if you are now in a situation where you must go through probate courts to finalize the estate of a loved one, the best thing you can do is get educated and get help to complete the process as quickly, and cost-effectively as possible.

How is a probate started in Minnesota?

Although any beneficiary or creditor can initiate probate, normally the person named in the will as the Personal Representative starts the process by filing the original will with the court and filing a Petition with the probate court in the county where you lived. If there is no will, typically a close relative of the decedent who expects to inherit from the estate will file the Petition.  These procedures should be filed within 3 years.

How is the Personal Representative chosen?

If the decedent had a will, the person named in the will as the Personal Representative will serve, if eligible. If that person is unable or unwilling to serve as Personal Representative, or if there is no Will, then any interested family member or person can petition the Court to be the administrator of the Estate.

How does the Personal Representative get paid?

Minnesota law provides that the Personal Representative is entitled to reasonable compensation for services. Time, labor, complexity, and extent of responsibilities are some of the factors considered.

Could I Be Held Personally Liable For Making a Mistake as a Personal Representative?

Possibly. Being a Personal Representative is a big responsibility. MN's probate code contains pages upon pages of complex legal rules and procedures that one must follow during the probate. Also, there are certain deadlines to meet in filing papers with the Court. Generally, a personal representative is individually liable for obligations arising from ownership or control of the estate or for torts committed in the course of administration of the estate only if the personal representative is personally at fault.  If unsure, please reach our to an attorney.

My loved one had a trust...will we need to go through probate?

In most cases, no.  If your loved one's assets are owned in the name of a Trust, the family can contact a lawyer who will complete some paperwork and guide the loved ones through the process with ease without the need for court involvement.

Unfortunately, many people who have a Trust think they have it all taken care of.  But time and again, family members of a recently passed loved one come into my office and they find out they are facing the frustration, expense and delay of a probate, even though the person they loved had a trust.

Why is that?

Often the Trust was prepared many years ago and was never updated; and often, their loved ones' assets were not owned in the name of their Trust.  That is why it is so very important that you carefully choose your estate planning attorney and have regular reviews of your plan and assets so the planning you do now works as planned later.

It's why we do things so much differently than most other lawyers and law firms here at Lee Lafayette Law.

What Assets are Subject to Probate?

Assets owned solely in the name of the deceased person are subject to probate. Assets that pass by means of title, such as real estate titled as “Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship,” or bank accounts titled as “Transfer On Death” are not subject to the probate process. Assets that pass by means of a beneficiary designation, such as life insurance or some retirement accounts, are also not subject to probate. In some situations, however, assets that would otherwise pass by title or beneficiary designation can be subject to the probate process.  Talk to an attorney if you have questions about your specific situation.

How is Distribution of the Estate Handled if there is no Will?

If there is no will or trust, the estate will be distributed according to MN probate and intestate laws.  Unfortunately, if left to the laws of the state,  your assets may go to someone you do not want.  Especially in instances of blended families and divorce.

How long does Probate take?

The length of time of a probate will depend on several factors. It usually takes a minimum of 6 months and can take up to two years or even longer for complex cases.

How much does Probate Cost?

Well, it depends on the complexity of the estate.  And the Personal Representative is entitled to a “reasonable fee.” You will also need to pay court fees, and a few other fees. This is often why we advise avoiding probate altogether.  So, efficiency matters and come speak with an attorney at our office.

Help: choosing the right attorney for your probate case

The best way to ensure your probate is done right is to choose your attorney wisely. Do not assume that all attorneys are the same!  Too many lawyers only “dabble” in probate or trusts. Don't choose a lawyer who does probate as a sideline because these lawyers often blunder causing real problems for their client and their cases often take longer than those handled by experienced probate lawyers.

You don't have to use the attorney who prepared the Will either! Just because a particular attorney prepared the Will, this does not mean that attorney must handle the probate, nor are they necessarily the right person for the job. You need to be comfortable with the attorney and confident that they are the right attorney for you. Choosing your probate or trust lawyer is one of the most important decisions you will make. If you put in the time and effort to find the right lawyer, you will be rewarded with a skillful guide who will help you navigate the probate process.

Contact Lee Lafayette Law for a complimentary post-death estate review

If you're ready to get started with the probate process after the passing of a loved one, please contact our office at 612-930-0050  or schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation to help determine your next best steps. We are here in service to making this all as easy as possible on you. 

During this appointment, we will answer all of your questions about probate and guide you and your family through the next best steps.  We are committed to helping you administer your loved one's estate as quickly and efficiently as possible, and look forward to relieving any administrative or legal burdens you may face during this time of loss.

Contact Us Today

Lee Lafayette Law is committed to answering your questions about Estate Planning, Wills, and Trust issues in St Louis Park, MN.

We'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.