As estate planning attorneys, we are often asked by heirs and other family members for copies of probate documents or a deceased person's will. Sometimes, people are looking for probate records to see whether or not a probate has been started. Since probate is a court process, all probate records are public records that anyone can read and access. Minnesota also has remote viewing of summarized probate records so that much of the information can now be found online from anywhere in the world.
The place to start for a remote public search of the probate records is at the Court's website, here: http://pa.courts.state.mn.us/default.aspx. Anyone interested in looking at probate court records can simply select the "Civil, Family & Probate Case Records" option and from there search by the decedent's name. The probate case number and a summary of the probate will show if a probate has been been started. The summary will also show the name of the person handling the probate (known as the executor or, in Minnesota, the personal representative).
While full probate court documents are not available for view from this website, they can be ordered from the court by referencing the case number. There has also been a push in recent years for more court records to be available online. If all else fails, anyone can physically view the probate records in person at the courthouse. For some, this public access of court records is discomforting.
Having court records available online is a good tool for the general public to have more access to public records, but it also means that anyone's last will and testament, heirs, and inventory of estate assets and debts can also be found online without careful and thoughtful estate planning. Through the use of trusts, beneficiary designations, and transfer on death deeds, probate can be avoided.
Need assistance with a Minnesota probate? Let us help you navigate the probate process. Our attorneys work to efficiently administer estates after the death of a loved one.
For more information about estate planning or probate, call our office at (507) 288-5567 to speak to a trusts and estates attorney today. You can also book an appointment online at www.wardoehler.com/book-online to get started.
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