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Are There Any Simplified or Expedited Probate Procedures Available in Minnesota?

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Can You Bypass or Shorten the Probate Process For a Minnesota Estate?

Probate, the process of transferring an individual’s assets to their heirs and creditors after their passing, can lead to considerable stress and expense for surviving family members. The full-blown probate process can take many months and even years to complete, leaving families in financial limbo as the court sorts out the situation. Luckily, Minnesota provides inheritors of smaller-sized estates with simpler options for completing the probate process. In some circumstances, you may be able to avoid probate altogether. A helpful Minneapolis probate attorney can evaluate your situation and explain whether a simplified probate process is suitable based on the details of the decedent’s estate.

What is the Small Estate Affidavit Process?

Minnesota Statute 524.3-1201 allows inheritors of certain small estates to skip the probate process entirely and use an affidavit to transfer the decedent’s property.

If the estate meets all qualifications, the inheritor will fill out an affidavit form that describes the property they are entitled to and sign it before a notary. To recover the assets, the inheritor can present the affidavit along with a copy of the death certificate to the financial institutions or persons holding the estate’s property.

What are the Conditions for a Small Estate Affidavit?

To be eligible to use a small estate affidavit, the estate must meet the requirements described in state statutes. The main stipulations include the following:

  • The value of the probate estate cannot exceed $75,000: For probate purposes, certain assets are excluded from the estate’s value. For example, any assets designated to an individual upon the decedent’s death are not counted, such as a payable-on-death (POD) or beneficiary-on-death (BOD) bank account or life insurance policy. Assets jointly owned by the decedent and another individual, like joint tenancy or life estate arrangements, are also not usually included. Funds in living trusts are excluded from the estate’s probate value as well. These exclusions mean that even estates with a reasonably high value overall may still qualify as a “small estate” if the assets were appropriately structured to take full advantage of the state’s exclusions.
  • At least 30 days must have elapsed from the date of death: Small estate affidavits cannot be prepared immediately. The inheritor must observe the waiting period but can gather all necessary information to make the process faster once the time is up.
  • There is no ongoing or approved petition or application for the appointment of a personal representative for the estate: Unfortunately, if probate proceedings have already been started, it is likely too late to use a small estate affidavit. It is best to consult with a probate attorney as soon as possible to understand your available options for filing and ensure you don’t make the process more complicated than necessary.
  • The financial institution holding the funds does not require “Letters” (court order from a probate judge) as part of its internal policies in order to release the funds upon decedent’s death.

Does Minnesota Have a Simplified Probate Process?

Even if the estate at issue does not meet the requirements for a small estate affidavit, it may be eligible for a simplified probate process known as summary administration.

The probate court will still need to be involved, but the proceedings are substantially quicker and more streamlined. Each estate is unique, and it is recommended that you seek the advice of a lawyer to determine whether simplified probate is appropriate for your situation. Typically, you can petition the court for summary administration if one of the following statements is true:

  • All property of the decedent was lost, rendered valueless, abandoned, or destroyed.
  • The estate’s value is less than $150,000 once homestead and exempt property have been excluded.
  • The individual left no property that is required to go through probate.
  • The decedent only left behind assets that are considered exempt property, the family allowance, or homestead property.

What are the Advantages of Expediting or Avoiding Probate?

Probate in Minnesota can be a lengthy and expensive process. All heirs must wait while the representative of the estate works with the court to settle the estate’s debts and determine the correct way to distribute the remaining assets. By avoiding or speeding up probate, heirs can avoid unnecessary delays and hassle. A faster process allows the decedent’s family to begin moving forward with their lives sooner and reduces the risk of unpaid bills accumulating while they sort out the estate’s finances. It can also help preserve more of the estate’s assets for the heirs, as the final cost of settling the estate will likely be much lower.

Although it may be tempting to try to handle the administration of a small estate on your own, it’s critical to remember that there are still strict rules for how the assets must be transferred. Errors can prolong the process and negate the advantages of summary probate. By seeking the guidance of a Minnesota probate attorney, you can ensure that the proceedings are completed smoothly and correctly.

Why Contact Our Law Firm For Probate Assistance?

Navigating probate procedures on your own can be confusing and complex. Our experienced probate lawyers at Metropolitan Law Group, PA can help you determine whether your estate qualifies for the small estate affidavit process or summary probate proceedings. Even if the estate is eligible for streamlined or simplified probate proceedings, it can still be vital to enlist the services of a knowledgeable attorney to ensure the estate is distributed according to state law. Failure to pay off creditors or allocate assets to the correct beneficiaries can lead to significant and expensive legal difficulties in the future. For skilled advice tailored to your unique situation, contact our Minneapolis law firm today at 612-448-9653 to schedule a free strategy session.

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