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Why Avoiding Probate Can Make Things Worse

Why Avoiding Probate Can Make Things Worse

October 31, 2019

By Johnson/Turner Legal

Probate of Will documentGrieving at the end of the life of our friend or special loved one is always a difficult process.  In addition to the emotional issues, you may be the one who ends up responsible for other issues, like notifying other friends and family members, cleaning out storage units or living spaces, and tracking down life insurance policies.  With all of these tasks at hand, many people will want to avoid any other tasks.  Probate is no exception, as many perceive it as an unnecessary “complication.”  However, there are reasons why trying to avoid putting an estate into probate can just make things worse.

One reason is that the more time passes, the more difficult it can be to actually track down potential heirs and beneficiaries.  When someone passes away, friends and family often come together to mourn and for the memorial services.  After that is over, however, everyone will disperse and return to their normal activities.  Heirs and beneficiaries may be spread across states or even across the globe.  Waiting to initiate probate can mean it is exceedingly complicated to find those who are entitled to receive assets under either the will or Minnesota laws of intestacy.

Another reason to not let too much time pass before initiating probate is that there are statutory restrictions as to when the probate must commence.  According to Minnesota § 524.3-108, probate must be commenced within three years of the decedent’s death.  There are exceptions to this rule, but it is always simpler to proceed within the time limit instead of trying to prove that the estate falls into one of the exceptions.  There are ways to move forward outside of the three year limit, but, again, simply moving forward with probate within three years makes the process much smoother.

Third, delaying probate can complicate issues of estate debt.  During probate, the personal representative is responsible for accounting for and gathering all of the debt of the estate.  Those debts will then be paid out of the assets of the estate.  Whatever is left will be distributed according to the terms of the decedent’s will or according to the intestate laws of Minnesota, if there is no will.  If years pass before probate is initiated, the issue of the amount of debt can become complex, as there may be fines or fees associated with nonpayment.

We have extensive experience helping our clients with probate, even when there has been a long delay.  Call us today at (320) 299-4249 and let us help you


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