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Minnesota Probate Law

Probate & Estate Administration

Probate is the process by which either a court or a registrar makes certain legal decisions and findings about the decedent (the dead person) and his or her estate, such as the following:

1. The date the decedent died.

2. The decedent lived in Minnesota in a particular county or owned property in this state.

3. The decedent did or did not have a last will and testament. (Dying with a will is testate. Dying without a will is intestate.)

4. The decedent, if he or she had a will, named a person or entity to act as personal representative.

5. The decedent had heirs who are identifiable.

If probate must proceed formallly, then a judge will make these determinations. If probate may proceed informally, then the county's registrar can, and should, probate the estate. A Minnesota probate lawyer such as myself can help you decide whether the estate must be probated formally or may be probated informally.

After these determinations are made, a personal representative is appointed and given either letters testamentary or letters of general administration. The letters allow the personal representative to distribute the estate's assets, settle its debts, and collect any obligations owed to it.

The personal representative's actions (called administration) can be supervised or unsupervised. The decision is based on what the decedent wanted, what the heirs want, and what the court thinks is required. If the administration is supervised, then the court will keep closer track of the actions the personal representative is taking. If the administration can be unsupervised, as is usually preferred, then the court will wait until the estate is settled before reviewing the personal administrator's work.

In sum, a case goes as follows: a file is opened in court, a personal representative settles the estate, the court reviews and closes the case. Of course, the proceedings are much more complicated and should be handled by an attorney.

If you are ready to hire a lawyer, or just need answers to questions, please contact me, a Minnesota probate attorney.

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Service Areas: I am willing to represent clients throughout Minnesota, including Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Marshall County, Nobles County, Otter Tail County, Pine County, Red Lake County, Sherburne County, Traverse County, Wadena County, Crow Wing County, or Pipestone County, just to name a few. Whether you are in Minneapolis or Saint Paul, Shoreview, Roseville, Fridley, Edina, Eagan, or Wayzata, or further out in cities like Rochester, Mankato, Saint Cloud, Duluth, I will represent you.