Most individuals are unfamiliar with the term “probate” until a loved one dies. At that point, they might be shocked to learn that they’ll have to contact the local courts to begin the process of closing out their loved one’s estate. This process can be daunting, especially if you’re unfamiliar with probate law.
It may also come as a surprise to family members or loved ones who thought that they could simply start diving up money or property according to wishes set forth in the deceased’s will.
Unfortunately, unless the estate is below a certain threshold, none of that can happen without the approval of the local probate court.
Fortunately, you don’t have to go through the probate process alone. You can hire a probate lawyer to help you navigate the court system and ensure that everything is done correctly. Working with a Minnesota probate lawyer can help ensure that legal items are taken care of as quickly and smoothly as possible while lessening the burdens that families may face by trying to go through probate alone.
Throughout the entire process, the probate lawyer’s job is to offer assistance as an estate passes through the court system in order for it to be distributed properly. There are several steps that the court must go through to close an estate, and the attorney’s role is to make sure everything is initiated and followed through on as these steps are being followed.
Some of the basic tasks of probate that an attorney will oversee include:
- Validating the will
- Creating a list of assets
- Filing documents with the court
- Placing legal notices in newspapers
- Obtaining expert appraisals for assets
- Compiling debts
- Contacting creditors
- Paying debts in a specific order
- Making sure taxes are paid on the estate
- Dispersing the remaining property in accordance with the will
We should point out that not every estate requires the services of a probate lawyer. For example, if the deceased had a trust that was properly funded at the time of his or her passing, probate will not be necessary to administer the trust. Additionally, some estates are under the threshold that would require a court probate or consist of only non-probate assets.
In just about every other case, however, hiring a probate lawyer will simplify the process for all involved and will most likely save the estate a fair amount of money. A probate attorney can also become an objective outside party who can guide the Personal Representative of the will in situations where family tensions run high. Along those same lines, if someone with a legal financial interest in the estate wants to contest the will, it makes sense to have a probate attorney working to make sure the decedent’s wishes are carried out to the best of the court’s ability.
If you’ve recently lost a loved one and you have questions about the probate process here in Minnesota or you’d like assistance closing out a loved one’s estate, please contact us at 763-244-2949 to schedule an appointment with a Minnesota probate lawyer.