Losing a loved one can be tough, especially when you are faced with questions about what happens to their property and estate now that they are gone. When a loved one passes away, their estate may need to enter a period known as probate, if that person dies with certain types of property in their name alone.
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During this process, the property and estate will be assessed and distributed according to the specifications left in the will. If no will is in place, Minnesota law governs the distribution of the assets. Once the transfer of the estate has been completed, the probate period ends.
If you need help navigating the probate process, or if you have questions about what will happen to your estate after you pass on, reach out to the compassionate legal team at Waldron Law Offices, Ltd. for trusted and experienced legal guidance. We are here to help you understand what to expect from the probate process and how to make sure you put together a clear estate plan that will avoid the probate process for your loved ones when the time comes.
Probate in Minnesota
The probate process begins by applying with the probate court. Probate ends when appropriate debts and taxes are paid and any assets are distributed to designated beneficiaries. If the will is contested, a Minnesota probate judge will step in to resolve the dispute.
Assets Subject to Probate
If you own certain types of property in the State of Minnesota in your name alone with no beneficiary designated — in other words, any property not held in joint tenancy with right of survivorship or without a beneficiary designation or transfer on death or payable on death designation — your estate must be probated following your death in order to pass that property on to your heirs, even if you have a will that designates to whom that property should be distributed. Any such property held outside of Minnesota will be subject to that state’s probate laws. Keep in mind that in Minnesota such assets will also be probated if the value of your probate estate exceeds $75,000. In contrast, other types of property or assets, such as jointly-owned property, jointly-held bank accounts, and life insurance funds that are designated for a specific beneficiary, are typically not subject to probate.
Informal vs. Formal Probate
Probate can be classified in two ways: Informal Probate and Formal Probate. During an informal probate proceeding, the personal representative specified in the will may pay any outstanding debts and inheritances without the court’s supervision. To start the informal probate process, you must prepare and file an application with the probate registrar, who will then either accept or deny your request. Informal probates could include a situation where there is a will or where there is no will.
In the State of Minnesota, formal probate generally involves estates where a judge is required to make certain determinations. Similar to informal probate proceedings, formal probate matters can either be supervised or unsupervised by a Minnesota court. Certain circumstances sometimes dictate that a formal probate must occur, such as where there are disagreements amongst the heirs, where there is a missing heir, or where the original of a will cannot be found.
Trusted and Compassionate Probate Guidance
Since most people have never gone through the probate process, it is highly recommended that you consult an experienced probate lawyer before moving forward. At Waldron Law Offices, Ltd., we are here to support you during each stage of the probate process, and often for a flat fee. Whether you have recently lost a loved one and you need help navigating the probate process, or you want to put sound estate planning strategies in place so that you can avoid the probate process after you are gone, we will work carefully with you to help you achieve your goals.