How Does Probate Work In Minnesota?

by Flanders Law Firm LLC on April 10, 2013

How Does Probate Work in Minnesota

How Does Probate Work in Minnesota?  Read on.

Probate can be a very confusing process.  Many people are unfamiliar with how to probate an estate due to their lack of experience with the subject.

In a lifetime, it is likely that a person will only be involved with the probate process once or twice, if ever.  While your lack of experience may prevent you from acting as an estate professional, you can certainly pick up some important background information that should help make the process much less intimidating.

Last week we went over some of the basics about the probate process in Minnesota. For instance, we discussed what kinds of assets and debts are generally subject to probate.  We also discussed which assets pass to heirs without a probate “hassle.”  Now that we have discussed which assets are subject to probate, let’s move on to the next step.

First things first, once a person dies, a person needs to be appointed as a personal representative (executor) or special administrator.  Once appointed, the personal representative must file a petition with the probate court in the county where the decedent lived prior to his or her death.

When must an estate be probated?  Minnesota law says that most proceedings must be initiated within three years of a person’s death. The probate process will then move forward either formally or informally, depending on the circumstances of your particular estate.

Informal v. Formal Probate Process in Minnesota

The difference between probating an estate informally or formally often comes down to court supervision.

A formal, supervised process should be used if a Will requires it.  A formal probate can also be valuable in cases of complicated estates.

For example, if there is a significant amount of probate property (particularly real estate), having a court watch over the distribution can be a big help.

Another time when a formal process is recommended includes those cases where an estate owes considerable money to creditors.  Cases that are likely to be disputed should also be probated formally and with court supervision to minimize legal fights.

However, the formal supervised process can be costly and should only be pursued if there are reasons to do so. If your estate is relatively small or uncomplicated, an informal approach is usually the way to go.

The following are some of the factors you should weigh when deciding whether to pursue a formal versus informal probate process:

  • Size of the estate
  • Types of assets involved
  • Complexity of issues in the estate
  • Likelihood for disputes among heirs
  • Existence of real estate to be distributed
  • Beneficiaries who are minors
  • Heavily indebted estate

Minnesota Probate Petition Requirements

If your estate will be handled informally, Minnesota Statutes 524.3-301 requires that the petition be submitted to probate court.  The petition must contain certain information.  First, the person filing the petition must state their interest in the proceeding, usually their relation to the deceased. The petition must also contain the decedent’s name, date of birth and death and address. The names of the decedent’s heirs and all those included in the Will, if there is one, must also be included in the petition. Finally, the petition must contain the name and address of the person who should be named the personal representative to manage the affairs of the estate. If there’s a Will then the Will must be authenticated and evidence must be submitted that it was properly executed.

In a formal process, an interested party (someone who stands to gain or lose based on the distribution of the estate) must file a petition with a probate court which then triggers the beginning of formal proceedings. The person filing the petition must then appear in court – something that can get tricky and often requires the assistance of an experienced Minnesota probate attorney.

What Happens Next?

The informal probate process requires that after filing the probate petition with the proper court, the registrar or court will then issue a statement of probate.  Assuming everything is in order, the probate registrar or probate judge will name a personal representative to manage the process.

Once appointed by the court, a personal representative must then take an Inventory of all of the property owned by the estate and report back to the court and to potential heirs or beneficiaries.

In either a formal or informal estate, the personal representative can then pay the debts owed by an estate and distribute assets without the court’s supervision.

Finally, probate ends when all debts and taxes are paid and all the assets have been distributed to the people or organizations entitled to them.

Though it may be intimidating at first, the probate process does not have to be a scary one. An experienced Eagan, Minnesota probate lawyer can help walk you through the probate process, answering questions along the way. For more information on estate planning in Minnesota, along with a variety of other topics, contact Joseph M. Flanders of Flanders Law Firm at (612) 424-0398.

Source:Probate,” published at AG.State.MN.US.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

What’s The Minnesota Probate Process All About?

The Importance Of A Will In Minnesota


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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

ig February 19, 2016 at 7:31 am

Admiring the hard work you put into your blog and detailed information you present.
It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted rehashed material.
Great read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.


Jim May 2, 2016 at 7:17 pm

I have a question , My son in-law who’s dad past away in 2011 left a house that one of his uncle I guess is in charge of it or you can say the executor .
He has not started any probate yet , my son in-law doesn’t want to sale the house but his uncle has been doing every thing he can to make things difficult for him . Can he stop the sale of the house if he want’s keep it ?
Also the uncle has rented out the house with out showing any income from it or even where the money been going he also had an action selling of several things and not showing where that money has gone . Can he be remove as the executor for being dishonest and not trust worthy ?


Flanders Law Firm LLC May 3, 2016 at 8:14 pm


Without knowing all of the facts, I cannot give a legal opinion. If the father had a Will, then that is the first thing to look at. If he did not have a Will, it is likely, but not certain, that the son has an interest in the house. I do question why the brother (uncle) can legally control the property. There are a lot of factual questions that arise from your question. If your son in law would like to discuss this with my office, please give us a call at 612-424-0398.


janet a schmitz February 2, 2017 at 5:15 am

This probate case is totally criminal and it’s taken me many years to come to terms with all the greedy, selfish, abusive, theft, unreporting of assets ect…which my brothers did to my handicapped father and I when my mother died. They lied to the court about my relationship with my dad, they abused my dad for twenty years until they stole his rightful assets. They threatened him to sign papers that they wouldn’t let him read. They put drugs in my room and had my home raided, put drugs in my vehicle and in my room again and in my vehicle when pack8my to take father on vacation. I could never attend a hearing to speak the truth. I was not told of court hearings. They did not split inheritance equally as stated before the judge. Wrecked father’s home so the value decreased over half so they could buy it after putting father away. I can go on and on about what they’ve done. Stole jewelry and gave items to their families whom were not heirs. Took mine and my son’s jewelry my mother stored in her room. Took loans from bank then had dad pay out of his portion. Never collected or paid the debts both had narrowed from our mother. Forged father’s name on truck loan, never paid on loan yet made parents get second morgage so as not to lose home because he put parents house up for colatteral. I really want to make them pay for what they have done to my dad. Oh there is so much more that a book could be written. They still won’t provide me my dads whereabouts or any financial records. They are afraid that I could mess up dads will for them since I’m sure they’ll get everythi,g and me nothing. They’ve made him sign a health directive which is nothing that he wants. They’ve had him sign over property never letting him use it or even paying for its value. Oh I need to help my father desperately. Please help, I’m poor, yet my brother has quite his job, goes hunting & fishing around the u.s. they should be in jail.


Nelson February 14, 2017 at 6:14 am

Right on the money.
Very informative.
Great read


Quincy Wright May 22, 2017 at 6:00 pm

I need help with an on going cases


Quincy Wright May 22, 2017 at 6:00 pm

I need help with an on going cases


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