Probate & Estate Administration

Probate & Estate Admi…

After the death of a loved one, you need to know where to begin. If you have been named as the personal representative of an estate, you will need to navigate the complex probate process. Having effective legal counsel can help you avoid delays and unnecessary expenses, while ensuring you take the right steps to completely administer the estate.

As personal representative, you are responsible for:

  • Serving legal notice to all interested parties
  • Responding to claims of creditors
  • Compiling and filing an inventory of the estate
  • Accounting for the income and expenses of the estate
  • Filing income tax returns
  • Filing an estate tax return (if applicable)
  • Paying the expenses of administration
  • Distributing the assets of the estate

Trustees administering a trust may be responsible for many of the same tasks, in addition to ensuring trust assets are prudently managed and invested for the benefit of the beneficiaries.

Our attorneys are experienced in estate planning, probate, real estate, farm law, and business law, allowing us to provide the unique guidance needed for the administration of estates involving small businesses, farm land and equipment, and commercial real estate.

Guiding you through your probate law needs...

Estate Administration Essentials

Our comprehensive approach to probate and estate administration ensures that our attorneys are able to advise you on the many facets of administering an estate. We focus on simplifying the probate process, identifying all potential issues, and timely completing estate tax returns so you can efficiently settle the estate.


Probate may be opened either formally or informally and, if formally, be supervised or unsupervised. Generally, an informal probate is used in uncomplicated situations such as when the decedent had a will, the estate is financially solvent, and there are no controversies. Other situations will generally require formal administration of the estate. The decision of whether to open a probate formally or informally should always be made with the advice of experienced and qualified legal counsel. Our attorneys help administer estates throughout Minnesota.

Trust Administration

When it comes time to enforce a trust, it is imperative that the terms be well understood. Often, trusts contain complex language and tax code references that require legal advice to ensure elections are made in a timely manner. As with probate, a trustee may be required to file income tax returns, an estate tax return, and manage the trust assets. Because a trust can continue for much longer than a probate estate, the trustee must carefully set up the administration of the trust from beginning. We regularly draft trusts and understand how to properly administer a trust.

Estate Tax Return

An estate tax return must be filed within 9 months of death. In Minnesota, any estate with a gross estate value that exceeds the exemption amount in the year of the decedent's death must file a Minnesota estate tax return. The gift and estate tax laws change often. For the current exemption amounts and updates on estate taxes, read our blog. There are often planning opportunities for significantly reducing the impact of estate taxes on an estate within the 9-month period after death. If you're handling the estate of a loved one, meet with us shortly after the death for the best options.

Where to Start

When you are ready to speak to an attorney, call our Rochester office at 507-288-5567 or our Winona office at 507-615-0253. We look forward to working with you!