Probate is the process of settling a person's estate after he or she has died. In Minnesota, a probate can be either informal or formal and supervised or unsupervised. Usually an informal unsupervised probate is requested as it can be more efficient and less costly.
Probate is necessary when there are probate assets. Probate assets are the items of property, whether real estate or personal property, that do not pass according to some other method. The "other method" would typically be by joint ownership with another person or by beneficiary designation. Assets that pass in this way are not subject to a will and do not require probate. When all the assets included in the probate estate is worth less than $75,000, the heirs can usually use a Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property to collect the assets and skip the probate process. However, if the probate estate includes real estate or the institution holding the assets will not accept the affidavit a probate proceeding will be required.
Starting a Minnesota probate includes estimating the decedent's assets and liabilities, determining the identity of the heirs, and locating the decedent's will (if any). This information is then organized and submitted in an Application for Informal Probate (assuming informal probate is appropriate) along with other court documents that requests the appointment of a personal representative. The personal representative will also need to pay the court filing fee. The registrar of probate or probate court will then review the submitted application to ensure it is complete the the requested process is appropriate. After the application has been accepted the registrar issues Letters Testamentary if the person died with a will or Letters of General Administration if the person died without a will.
The Letters issued are the court documents that appoint the personal representative and the basis of the authority of the personal representative to act on behalf of the estate. Once Letters have been issued, the personal representative can begin the process of administering the estate by collecting the assets, paying debts, and distributing the estate to the heirs and beneficiaries.
The advise and guidance of a Minnesota probate attorney can help the personal representative navigate the court process and settling of the estate. We work with personal representatives throughout the State of Minnesota in various county courts. If you are ready to begin the Minnesota probate process, call (507) 288-5567 to speak to one of our attorneys or contact us on our website.
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