In order for the probate process to begin, the personal representative of the estate must open probate. The personal representative is often determined by the decedent’s Will. In the event that there is no Will or a valid personal representative has not been named, Minnesota law has a set method for naming the personal representative. This method is often referred to as “priority of appointment.”
The personal representative begins the probate process by filing a petition with the appropriate probate court. According to Minnesota probate law, the probate application must be filed with the probate court located in the county where the decedent legally resided at the time of his or her death. The fee for opening probate varies by county, but it is typically a relatively small fee.
When opening probate, the personal representative may elect to pursue a formal or informal probate. It is up to the court, or the probate registrar, to determine which type of probate is most suitable for a particular estate. Although a personal representative may choose to file for informal probate, the probate registrar may reject this petition for any reason.
During the initial stages of probate, it is necessary to identify and locate all of the decedent’s heirs. Even if an heir is not set to receive any property from the Will, state law requires all potential heirs and devisees be notified of the initiation of the probate process. Regardless of whether an heir is named in the Will, he or she must receive a copy of the probate petition and the appointment of the personal representative.
After the probate petition is accepted and the personal representative is named or confirmed by the court, it is then the duty of the personal representative to accept the appointment. Acceptance of this appointment includes taking an oath to execute the estate according to Minnesota law. At this time, the personal representative will receive a document that indicates proof of probate – either a Letters Testamentary or a Letters of General Administration, depending on whether or not there was a Will.
Once probate is officially open, it must remain open for at least six months. Since there are many regulations that must be followed in order for an estate to be successfully closed, it is always a good idea to work with an experienced attorney during the probate process.
If you need help opening or conducting probate in Minnesota, our attorneys are here to help. Contact the Brown Law Offices, P.A. at 763-323-6555 for a free consultation. We can help walk you through the entire probate process and make sure you act according to Minnesota statute so you can successfully close the estate in a timely fashion.
Find out more about probate in Minnesota by reading Probate Process Step 2: Asset Collection.