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Minnesota Probate Attorneys

What is Probate?

When would I need a Minnesota Probate Attorney? When you or a loved one passes away, his or her estate—money, real estate, and personal property left behind—goes through a court-managed process called probate.  Probate is a process in which the court determines how the deceased’s estate is distributed to heirs and next of kin.  Probate occurs regardless of whether the deceased had a will or not.


Non-Probate Assets

Not every asset has to go through the probate process.  The following assets pass on to named beneficiaries without the need for probate:

  • Property owned as “joint tenants with right of survivorship.” This property passes to the other co-owners by law.
  • Retirement accounts such as an IRA and 401(k).
  • Life insurance policies.
  • Payable on Death (POD) bank accounts.
  • Property held in trusts.

For a more in-depth discussion on strategies used to avoid probate, please read our article How to Avoid Probate.

Probate Process

Every estate is unique, but the probate process generally follows these steps:

  • A petition is filed with the proper court to probate the deceased person’s estate and appoint a fiduciary to act on behalf of the estate.
  • Notice is provided to heirs.
  • The court issues an order appointing the nominated fiduciary (known as the Personal Representative, Executor, or Administrator), which enables that fidcuiary to take control over the assets in the estate.
  • An inventory of the probate assets is prepared.
  • Any debts owed by the deceased are paid to rightful creditors from the estate.
  • The Executor/Administrator sells estate assets not otherwise distributed by the will or by statute.
  • Any applicable estate taxes are paid.
  • All remaining assets are distributed to the heirs.
  • A final accounting is prepared.


Probate Disputes

Death can create a lot of stress and confusion.  Emotions are running high and disputes may arise over even the slightest of details.  This can lead to drawn-out lawsuits and multiple court hearings during what is called a “will contest.”  Dudley and Smith, P.A. has experienced attorneys who will help you navigate the probate process and protect your rights if a dispute should arise, helping you avoid litigation while saving time and money.