7 Things You Must Know About Estate Plan, Probate, and Estate Administration in Minnesota

Oct 6, 2015 | Minnesota Estate Administration, Minnesota Estate Planning, Trusts, Wills

  1. Probate is not scary. There is a common misconception (often used to sell more expensive trust-based plans) that probate is scary and expensive. Probate can be a routine process and in some cases probate may be easier and cheaper than other options.
  2. A will does not prevent probate. A will on its own does not transfer property. The will must be submitted to the probate court upon death to take effect. A will does allow you to select the Personal Representative (Executor) to handle your affairs, direct the distribution of your probate assets, appoint a Guardian for minor children, and establish a trust for your beneficiaries.
  3. Not all property is transferred in probate, some property can be transferred without probate. Property that has a joint owner, beneficiary designation, or is owned by a trust is non-probate property and transfers without a probate process (even if the estate requires probate for other property). For small estates, there is a process to transfer property without the need for probate.
  4. Not all estates will require probate. If all property is non-probate or it is a small estate, probate may be unnecessary.
  5. Jointly owned property must be transferred to the surviving owner. Accounts and titles held jointly will be transferred to the joint owner upon death, and prior to any probate proceeding.
  6. An organized and responsible personal representative is important. Personal representatives should be selected based upon their skills to handle the job, not their relationship to you.
  7. There’s more to estate planning than a will. Along with a will, health care directives and financial powers of attorney are necessary documents for a complete estate plan. Parents should consider temporary guardian designations for minor children. Prenuptial agreements are useful for blended families. A variety of trusts exist to provide extra protection in many situations.