When someone dies, their estate may need to pass through probate court before their loved ones and other beneficiaries can receive any assets from the estate.
Testators in Minnesota create comprehensive estate plans with the specific intention of avoiding probate court or at least minimizing probate oversight during estate administration. Others don’t take any special steps to avoid probate proceedings and instead expect the representative of their estate to manage those matters.
Whether you are someone who has agreed to serve as the representative of an estate or you are in the process of planning your own, understanding the three kinds of probate proceedings in Minnesota can help you make use of the systems in place for your protection.
Small estates can avoid most proceedings
If the total value of the assets in someone’s estate is less than $75,000, the heirs expecting to inherit from the estate don’t necessarily need to go through probate court. They can file an Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property.
That document will allow them to then access and assume control over the assets designated for them from the estate after 30 days. However, if the probate courts determine the estate is worth more than $75,000 or if there is any real property involved, the actual probate oversight is typically necessary.
Many estates that require oversight by the probate courts only require informal probate administration. The representative of the estate will need to provide the will and crucial financial records to the probate courts.
They will need to communicate with creditors and follow a streamlined probate process to fulfill someone’s outstanding responsibilities and then distribute the assets from the estate according either to state law or the instructions provided by the testator.
Formal probate proceedings
For particularly large estates and those that contain complex assets, such as a business, formal probate proceedings may be necessary. There is more court involvement in formal probate, and there may be a longer wait for the final resolution of the estate. Bigger estates also often have a greater risk of challenges brought by creditors or would-be beneficiaries.
Testators have the ability to avoid probate court by planning ahead. Transfer on death designations on major bank accounts, trusts and strategic gifts are all strategies for someone who hopes to reduce probate involvement with their estate or help their family members avoid probate proceedings altogether.
Understanding the different levels of probate oversight possible can help those who need to plan or administer an estate in Minnesota.