What Is Probate?
Probate is the legal process of transferring a person’s assets and paying their final bills after they die. If a person owns Minnesota real property in solely their own name or is a Minnesota resident with more than $75,000 in personal property, their estate will be subject to Minnesota probate laws.
There are four general steps to the probate process for which the personal representative of an estate or court-appointed executor is responsible. First, the probate needs to be opened with the court. This is accomplished by filing the initial probate documents with the court. Second, an inventory and accounting of the estate need to be completed. Third, the decedent’s debts and taxes will need to be paid in order of their creditor priority. Fourth, the remaining estate assets will be dispersed amongst the decedent’s heirs under the terms of the will, or if there is no will, Minnesota intestacy law.
Is A Probate Necessary?
Whether probate is necessary depends on the amount of property you own, the type of property you own, and whether you own it alone or with others.
Unless real estate is owned in joint tenancy with the right of survivorship, is placed into a trust, or is recorded as a transfer-on-death deed, it will have to be probated.
What Does It Mean To Own Property In Joint Tenancy With The Right Of Survivorship?
It means that two or more people own the real estate, and when one owner dies, their interest vanishes and is transferred to the other surviving owner(s).
What Is A Transfer-On-Death Deed?
A transfer-on-death deed allows the grantor to transfer real estate to a grantee upon the grantor’s death but still enables the grantor to retain full ownership rights, including revocation of the deed, while the grantor is still alive.
What If I Own Real Estate Outside Of Minnesota Or Am A Resident Of Another State But Own Real Estate In Minnesota?
Suppose you own a cabin in Wisconsin but are a resident of Minnesota. In that case, Wisconsin probate laws will govern the probate of the cabin. Still, the probate laws of Minnesota will govern any other personal property or real estate you own in Minnesota.
In Minnesota, if the estate at the time of death is less than $75,000, the heirs may be able to collect the property without going through probate. Financial accounts such as bank accounts and pensions that hold assets over $75,000 need to go through probate unless a beneficiary is named or the account is held jointly.
If you have life insurance and a “beneficiary” listed, they will receive the insurance proceeds upon your death outside of probate.
Joint Bank Accounts
In the same way that two or more individuals can hold an interest in real property together with rights of survivorship, the same applies to bank accounts. If one or more people are listed as account holders, if one dies, the other holder(s) still retain their interest to all the money in the account.
Individually Owned Accounts
The funds in these types of accounts can skip probate, so long as the account is made payable on-death with the financial institution. If the account is made payable on death, an individual of your choosing will receive the funds upon your death but has no right or interest in the funds before such an occurrence.
How Long After Death Do I Have To File A Probate In Minnesota?
Minnesota law requires that probate for an estate be opened within three years of the person’s death. Suppose a person has been deceased for more than three years, and the estate was not probated. In that case, an interested party must petition the court to transfer the property according to the will or, if there is no will, Minnesota intestacy laws. Such probate must now be conducted formally rather than informally.
When probate is needed, it is a good idea to consult an attorney.
If you need legal assistance, contact SW&L at 701-297-2890 or email us.