A Brief Guide to the Minnesota Probate Process

The death of a loved one or relative can be hard enough without the added stress of figuring out what to do with the person’s estate. Fortunately, Minnesota has a solution: probate. Put simply, probate is the process by which the will of the deceased is put into action, or in the absence of a will, the deceased’s estate is divvied up amongst his or her heirs. Probate is particularly important where real property is involved to ensure that the heirs actually become the owners of the property. Here are the steps.

  • First things first. Upon the death of a person, the first step to administering their estate is to obtain an appointment for an individual as the executor or personal representative or administrator of the estate. If there is a will, this person may be named already and it is simply a matter of that person seeking to be appointed. If there is no will or the person appointed is no longer able to serve, then someone else must be appointed.
  • File the petition. Once the executor is appointed, they will need to file a petition to probate the estate. This petition must be filed in the county the person resided in at the time of their death. The petition must also contain specific information about the decedent, the executor, and their relationship to the decedent.
  • If there is a will, there is a way! But, only if the will is authenticated—meaning it must be shown that the document is in fact the will of the deceased. The executor must also provide evidence showing that the will was executed properly. Also, a will is not a ticket out of probate.
  • Formal vs. informal. Probate comes in two flavors in Minnesota—formal and informal. Formal requires court supervision of the probate process and is used mainly in situations of complex estates, or when formal probate is specifically required by the will. Informal probate does not require court supervision and is beneficial for smaller, uncomplicated estates. If there are minors involved, or the estate has many assets or debts, formal supervision is more likely necessary.
  • The Next Steps. In formal proceedings, since court supervision is being requested, it’s not surprising that the individual filing the petition for probate must appear in court. Informal proceedings are much more casual. In these proceedings the court will appoint a personal representative for the estate and this person will be tasked with taking an inventory of all of the property of the deceased. Once they have completed the inventory, they must report back to the court as to the situation of the estate. The representative has the power to pay the debts owed by the estate without further permission of the court.
  • The End. Probate finishes when all debts (including taxes!) of the estate are paid and the assets are distributed according to the wishes of the decedent or the intestacy laws.



While Minnesota’s probate laws are designed to be user friendly, there are still numerous pitfalls that can come with the process. Having experienced and competent counsel help guide you through the process is not only affordable, it is advisable. Jane Larson has extensive experience with probate in Minnesota and can help you with it, or other estate planning needs, now. Contact her today to get started.

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Jane J. Larson Associates

Jane J. Larson Associates provides personalized legal services for clients in the City of Roseville, as well as Ramsey, Hennepin, and Washington Counties We’ve been providing essential legal services since 1988 and are ready to put our decades of experience to work on your case. We take stress out of the legal process, and are ready to help you today.

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