Even if someone has a will in place, it’s still quite likely that his or her estate will need to be overseen by a good probate attorney in Minnesota. These professionals understand the incredibly complex process that goes along with closing out someone’s estate after he or she has passed away. Those who have worked with an estate planning lawyer can sometimes avoid probate through the use of tools like revocable living trusts, but if you are in a situation where the estate in question needs to go through the legal process, it makes sense to get a qualified probate attorney on board.
One of the things the lawyer will do is to help you better understand the steps of the probate process in Minnesota. Knowledge is power, and having a reasonable expectation of what to expect can make probate a little less intimidating.
While every situation is different, a typical probate process in Minnesota will look something like this:
- The validation of the will. The will needs to be proven valid and filed at the county probate court.
- The court will appoint a Personal Representative (also known as an executor). The will usually nominates someone for the position, but the Personal Representative will not have legal authority to take actions until approved by the court.
- An inventory is made of all the assets, as well as a determination if the estate is owed money by any other parties. At this time, a special checking account may be created to take care of the estate’s obligations.
- The outstanding debts of the decedent and the ongoing expenses of the estate will be identified and paid. These debts should be uncovered in the previous steps.
- The remaining property will be distributed to heirs based upon the wishes outlined in the will and according to the laws of Minnesota, after approval by the court.
This is obviously a simplified look at what happens during the process, but even from this brief list, it is possible to see why it is so beneficial to have an experienced probate lawyer in Minnesota involved. He or she not only oversees the legal aspects of probate—filing paperwork and keeping things moving forward—but also guides the executor on what duties need to be fulfilled. Ideally, the probate process will take only a few months, but due to the time it takes to obtain court hearings and the built in waiting periods to ensure creditors are paid, this timeframe is typically stretched out to take a year. If any issues arise or there is disagreement among the heirs the timeframe is even longer. A probate lawyer will help to avoid as many pitfalls as possible so that the estate can be closed efficiently and in a timely manner.