What Is the Probate Process in Minnesota?
The firm’s primary focus is on handling contested matters, whether a will or trust dispute, guardianship or conservatorship dispute, fiduciary contest, contested creditor’s claim or other disputed proceeding. The probate attorneys at Mason & Helmers also assist with all aspects of the probate process.
- The first step is to open the estate. This requires the submission of a death certificate and a petition to appoint a personal representative to administer the estate and carry out the wishes of the deceased.
- If the petition is approved, the court will issue Letters Testamentary. These allow the personal representative to serve as the estate’s legal representative and act on its behalf.
- The personal representative arranges to collect and inventory the assets of the estate.
- The personal representative identifies and notifies creditors with collectible accounts and pays bills and taxes, including bills related to the final illness, funeral costs and other end-of-life care.
- The personal representative notifies beneficiaries and distributes assets as determined by the will.
To accomplish these tasks, the personal representative may need to find beneficiaries, verify that the will was valid according to law, determine whether creditor claims are valid or even locate the will.
Certain Problems Can Require Probate Litigation
The personal representative may need to resolve legal problems with the assistance of an experienced probate lawyer. Challenges to administering an estate include:
- Whether the will is valid. Common issues include the threat of coercion or undue influence, the validity of the decedent’s signature, or the legal capacity of the decedent to make decisions about the distribution of his or her property.
- Whether the will makes the intentions of the deceased clear. Ambiguities in language can lead to litigation.
- Whether the family members accept the distribution of assets determined by the will.
- Whether all heirs can be identified and located.
- Whether all the heirs accept the authority and actions of the personal representative or fiduciary.
Questions such as these can result in a will contest, a type of probate litigation that seeks to resolve problems related to the decedent’s will, and fiduciary litigation, which is an effort to remove a fiduciary or personal representative.
To learn more about the probate process, including the distribution of assets in accordance with a will, contact Mason & Helmers. The firm’s attorneys serve clients in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and beyond in probate matters. Call 651-323-2548 or 877-389-5533 (toll free) to set up an appointment.