Answers To Your Probate FAQ

I wrote a will. Does that mean that my family will avoid probate?

Not necessarily. It depends on the type of property you own and whether you own it alone or with others. For example if your spouse dies and together you owned your house, the cabin and your vehicles, these will not go through probate. If your cabin is located in Wisconsin, then at the time of your death this property will be subject to Wisconsin probate laws. There are ways to avoid probate by putting property into a trust.

Is there a financial threshold for probate in Minnesota?

Yes. If one spouse dies and their estate is valued at under $75,000 the estate will most likely not have to go through probate. For example, if John and Sally are 75 years old and have been married for 50 years and Sally dies it's most likely that there will be no probate. Typically Sally's husband John or adult child will be named as executor and be in charge of putting a notice in the paper, paying off any debts and distributing Sally's assets as she indicated in her will.

What is an affidavit for collection of personal property?

Also called the Minnesota small estate affidavit or Form MMB-00375-07 an affidavit for collection of personal property is filed 30 days after a person dies. You will need to have the person's death certificate. If a car is to be given to someone you will need to give the car's title to the new owner so that he or she can get a new title. The heirs may collect the property that was bequeathed to them 30 days after the person dies.

Do trusts go through probate?

No. A well-planned trust can ensure that an estate does not pass through probate. There are many types of trusts but their purpose is usually to protect the estate's assets from creditors and from heavy taxes.

What is the threshold for the Minnesota estate tax?

In 2018 the threshold is $2.4 million. This amount is planned to go up $300,000 until 2020 when it reaches $3 million.

How does a Minnesota estate get distributed?

If there is a will, the personal representative or executor has the duty to distribute the estate property according to the will. In cases where there is no will the estate property will be distributed according to Minnesota intestate succession laws.

  • When there is no will (called intestate) then typically the spouse of the deceased (called the decedent) will inherit the estate and assets.
  • In cases where either spouse has children from other marriages, then most often the surviving spouse's share is less than the entire estate.
  • If the spouse is no longer living, the estate generally passes to the children of the deceased person in equal shares.

What happens if relatives cannot be located?

If there are assets that need to be distributed to a relative and the executor or personal representative cannot locate that person or persons, then those assets are deposited with the county treasurer until they are claimed.

What items are not subject to probate?

Jointly owned or held property (such as the house that John and Sally live in), joint bank accounts, payable-on-death (POD) accounts, pensions (such as Sally's teacher's retirement account) typically do not go through probate. If Sally had a life insurance policy that paid out upon her death, and this policy had a designated beneficiary this would not go through probate. For example, if Sally were 59 and worked for a large corporation and had a $150,000 life insurance policy that named her daughter as the beneficiary this would just be paid out to the daughter after Sally's death.

What is a payable-on-death account?

A payable on-death-account (POD account) is an account that one person owns. That person chooses someone to receive those funds (called a beneficiary) when they die. The beneficiary, can only get these funds after the person dies. A POD account is set up by a bank or financial institution. The person who owns the account can change the beneficiary at any time.

A loved one died. How do I probate a Minnesota estate?

A personal representative should fill out an application or petition with the probate court in the county where the person who died lived. Probate proceedings in Minnesota can be formal or informal, court-supervised or unsupervised. Probate proceedings must be started within three years of the person's death.

The services of an attorney, paid for from the estate assets rather than by the personal representative personally, are beneficial to the orderly probating of an estate.

  • To start an informal probate process first file an application with the probate court. In some Minnesota counties you have to do this in person. Once completed and approved, the personal representative may pay debts and inheritances and may otherwise administer the estate without the court's supervision. The probate registrar decides to either accept or reject the application. Rejected applications are not final and these applications can still undergo the formal probate proceeding.
  • To start a formal probate process file the formal petition with the court. A judge will have to oversee this process. After you file you will have to attend a hearing. The formal process involves a lot of legal language and paperwork and typically at this stage people find the guidance of an established probate attorney very helpful if not invaluable. Once the petition is complete, the court issues an order for probate and appointment of the personal representative.

Skilled Probate Help Is Available

We know how difficult it can be when a loved one passes. We can help ensure that the wishes of your family member are carried out and that all paperwork and processes are done to the letter of the law. Call Coodin & Overson, PLLP, at 651-319-5180 or contact us online for a free consultation.

Located in Lake Elmo, we advise and represent clients in Woodbury, Oakdale and throughout the Twin Cities. We can help anyone who lives in Minnesota or whose relative had property in Minnesota.

If you plan to contact our office for a meeting or have already scheduled a time for your initial consult, feel free to begin to fill out the probate worksheet. Getting a start on the worksheet prior to your meeting can help to expedite the drafting process.