Probate Law | State Interest in Just and Speedy Probate Administration

by Flanders Law Firm LLC on December 13, 2011

There is no federal law of probate or estate administration.  That isn’t to say that federal law doesn’t play a role. It does – mainly in the form of estate taxation.  However, the laws related to how a probate estate is administered are enacted by the states.

Every state has slightly different laws related to how an estate is administered. For more detailed information, you should speak with a probate lawyer in your state.A qualified probate lawyer will know the nuances of the law in their particular jurisdiction.  Furthermore, the states often do take some guidance from national probate advisory committees or “model codes”; however, the law itself is strictly under the purview of individual state regulation.

With that thought in mind, there is one truism that applies to most state laws:  the purpose of probate laws are to simplify, speed-up, and ensure a just collection of debts and assets and conclusion to the estate proceedings.  To be blunt, states are not interested in deciding the disputes or warring heirs.

To that end, here are some of the common purposes which are included in many states’ probate codes:

  1. To simplify and clarify the law related to the affairs of a deceased person (decedent);
  2. To discover and effectively carry-out the intent of the decedent in the collection and allocation of estate property;
  3. To promote the just, speedy, and efficient liquidation of estate debts and assets of the decedent and making distributions to beneficiaries or “heirs”;
  4. To ensure that uniform laws are in place among various jurisdictions.

I find that to be a relatively simple list.  Don’t you?

Essentially, the state laws related to probate are concerned with the just, fair, and speedy collection and distribution of estate debts and assets.  Probate lawyers know that this is the goal in every estate administration proceeding.  Contrary to some beneficiary’s thoughts, the courts are not interested in settling disputes between disgruntled heirs.

A particular state takes an interest in the just and speedy administration of the estate to ensure that:

  1. taxes are paid out of the estate when they are due;
  2. to make sure that creditors are paid money that was owed by the decedent;
  3. to protect a surviving spouse and members of the decedent’s immediate family;
  4. and to make sure that the decedents wishes, as expressed in his or her Will, are complied with.

If you think the lists above look similar, that is because they should.   With those thoughts in mind, there are certain probate administration procedures that should be followed by the Minnesota probate lawyer and the appointed personal representative of the estate.  Please review some of my prior posts for a discussion of those procedures.  For this post, I simply wanted to inform people of the simple goals that are behind many state’s probate laws.

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