When someone dies, his or her property must be transferred to the appropriate people. There are many considerations in the division and distribution of property and assets, including whether or not a valid Last Will & Testament is present.
Probate is a very common legal process in which it is determined how the property and assets of an estate are to be divided and transferred. In order to understand this process, it is important to distinguish between probate and non-probate assets. If you live in Minnesota, our probate lawyers are here to help you through what can be a rather complicated procedure.
Non-Probate Assets in Minnesota
In the state of Minnesota, an estate typically includes both probate and non-probate assets. Non-probate assets are automatically transferred to a beneficiary or heir upon death. There is no further legal process that is needed in order for the division and transfer of these types of property to occur. In simple terms, any property or asset that designates someone else as an owner in the event of death will fall under non-probate property. Typical examples of non-probate property include:
- Life insurance policies;
- Joint tenancy properties;
- P.O.D. accounts;
- Trust properties;
- Property with a Transfer on Death Deed; and
- Retirement accounts
Many of these assets have built-in regulations for transfer. For example, when completing a life insurance policy, one must name a beneficiary. When the owner of the policy dies, the money is transferred to that beneficiary. There is no further legal process necessary for this transfer to take place. Non-probate property clearly names who is to receive the asset upon the individual’s death. However, there are certain circumstances where what is typically non-probate property can in fact become probate property.
Probate Property in Minnesota
In general, probate property will include any part of an estate that does not have an explicit beneficiary, or heir, written into the account or deed. In other words, there is no pre-established order for transfer, and thus it is necessary for the courts to help determine where property should go. Probate assets typically include:
- Personal property;
- Bank accounts with no designated beneficiary; and
- Real property (such as real estate) owned entirely by the descendent
A Last Will & Testament often serves as a guide for probate, but the role of the Will vary greatly depending on how general or how specific it is. Ultimately, probate is the process for determining if the Will is valid, which includes the final determination for how the property will be transferred.
If you live in Minnesota and are experiencing a situation that may involve probate, then our attorneys are here to help you. We can sit down with you and guide you through the process. We can also help you understand the difference between probate and non-probate assets. Contact the Brown Law Offices, P.A. at 763-323-6555 for a free consultation with one of our probate lawyers.