When your family member or loved one passes away, chances are, the estate will have to pass through probate. Probate is the process through which the estate’s assets are gathered, debts are paid, and any remaining assets will be distributed according to the provisions of the deceased’s will or, if there was no will, the Minnesota laws of intestacy. While it is possible sometimes to navigate probate without the assistance of an attorney, retaining a probate attorney to help you with your case is often highly advisable.
First, probating an estate often involves complicated family dynamics. This is especially true where the estate is large or when one of the relatives who expected to inherit has been left out. By hiring an attorney to handle the case, difficult or awkward inquiries can be handled by the attorney, reducing the amount of family friction.
Another reason is that your probate attorney is intimately acquainted with the legal requirements associated with probate. Your attorney will be aware of the deadlines that need to be met as well as the required waiting periods. It is essential that the proper time limits are observed, and failure to do so can result in the debts being paid out of order or the estate having to be reopened after it is closed to correct a mistake.
Third, if you have an attorney, he or she will be able to assist in determining which debts are allowable as well as helping to notify the creditors if their claim has been denied. Even more important, the attorney will know the order of priority in which debts must be paid. Certain debts enjoy higher priority, and Minnesota law requires they be paid before debts with lower priority. If the low priority debts are paid first and this results in insufficient assets to pay a high priority debt, the personal representative can face harsh repercussions.
Your probate attorney will also be able to assist you with more complex but common matters, such as when assets have been left to minor children. Moreover, an attorney will be able to tell you which assets pass outside of probate and are not included in the estate.
We have extensive experience helping our clients with all types of probate and estate planning issues. Call us today at 651-413-9568 and schedule a consultation to talk about your estate and your goals.