When a loved one passes away in Minnesota, his or her estate often goes through a court-managed process called probate or estate administration where the assets of the deceased are managed and distributed.
The first task required in a probate proceeding is to appoint a responsible party to manage the estate. This person is the personal representative. The personal representative is personally responsible for probating the estate completely and correctly, according to statute, and to bring it to a prompt conclusion. The personal representative is usually named in the will.
Estate administration in Minnesota requires the personal representative to gather the deceased assets, pay the deceased’s debts, and distribute the remaining assets to the heirs.
A probate proceeding can be either formal or informal. An informal proceeding requires the personal representative to file some basic paperwork, ask the court to appoint a person to manage the estate, pay the debts, distribute the assets, and ask the court to approve the distribution. The court may approve the estate without a hearing and simply by a review of the papers filed. In other cases, a formal probate hearing may be necessary. A probate hearing requires the personal representative to appear in court, review the documents with the judge, and ask the judge to approve the disposition of assets.
The personal representative begins the probate process by documenting the decedent’s assets.
This documentation is called the inventory. The personal representative must also notify the decedent’s creditors that the decedent has died. If the decedent’s has assets to pay the creditors, the personal representative will pay them from the estate. If the probate assets are insufficient, the personal representative may need to obtain court approval to determine which creditors should be paid. An attorney may be necessary to assist the personal representative with estate administration in Minnesota. If there are any assets left after the creditors have been paid, those assets are distributed according to the will. The personal representative will also file any necessary tax returns.
If you are named as administrator or executor in a will, you may need an attorney to guide you through the probate process. (You will be expected to file the case in probate court, collect assets, prepare accounting of the estate, and distribute assets.)
Handling the administration of the estate can be overwhelming. This is particularly true when the decedent or the surviving spouse received Medical Assistance benefits. There may be unresolved issues pertaining to Medical Assistance liens, elective share claims, and estate recovery claims. Because of our knowledge of the Medical Assistance laws, we can also assist you in these matters.
Your Family Guardian attorneys in Minnesota are available to answer your questions regarding the estate administration process. Contact them at 612-710-2009. They represent clients throughout the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area including Edina, Plymouth, Bloomington, and St. Louis Park, Minnesota.