Estate Planning | The “Probate” Estate: Supervised and Unsupervised Administration

by Flanders Law Firm LLC on August 25, 2011

 

Proper estate planning means talking to a your lawyer and discussing the meaning of the word “probate” and what effect this word has on you and your estate.

Traditionally, in many states in America, when a person dies, their estate requires “probate” administration through the courts.  This is a fancy way of saying that your Will or Trust must be submitted to the court for review and approval.  In essence, the court looks at how you wanted your assets and debts paid out.  Your Will gives the court direction on how to do this.

Also, the court typically has two types of probate administration:  supervised and unsupervised.  Your estate planning lawyer in Minnesota should discuss with you the different types of probate administration and why or why not you might want to ask for either one.

In either case, the lawyer will need to file the necessary court documents with the court, asking for supervised or unsupervised court administration of your estate.  As I have discussed, the personal representative of your will needs to indicate to the court whether you had a will or not.  Assuming there was a will, the original Will typically must be filed with the court.

An unsupervised petition is where the personal representative and the lawyer asks the court for permission to proceed without court approval of every action by the personal representative.  This means less court hearing and likely less expense for the estate.

A supervised administration petition is where the personal representative and the lawyer ask the court for direct supervision over the personal representative’s actions.  This means that the court will be directly involved with the estate administration.  The purpose of requesting a supervised estate is generally so that the personal representative’s decisions are not subject  to interpretation and possible fighting by the heirs.  The heirs also are then given an opportunity to tell the court about their feelings on estate matters.  This option can be more costly in terms of fees and expenses for the estate.

As you can guess, an unsupervised administration is often preferable.  It can streamline the probate process.  However, in many states, the personal representative must gain the approval f all of the heirs in order for a unsupervised administration to proceed.  Locating all the heirs can be difficult – especially if they are in different states.

Those are the basic differences between supervised and unsupervised estate administration.  For further questions, please contact lawyer Joseph M. Flanders at flanderslawfirm.com.

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