Do I Need Formal Probate?

Losing a loved one is never easy.  Regardless of whether this person was family by birth or a very close friend, you will likely go through substantial emotional struggles before and after Probate Courtyour loved one has passed away.  In addition to your emotional issues, you may also be faced with some logistical ones, as well.  If you are in charge of administering your loved one’s estate, you will likely need to make sure the estate passes through probate.  There are two types of probate: informal and formal.  It is important to understand which one is more appropriate for your situation.

Probate is the process during which the personal representative will gather the assets of the estate, pay allowable debts, and distribute the remaining assets to the heirs and beneficiaries.  Informal probate is a useful tool in those cases where it is suitable as it streamlines the process and usually reduces the amount of time it will take.  An informal case is handled by a court clerk and you will not have to go in front of a judge.  However, not all cases are suitable for this simplified process.

Formal probate is required in several different situations.  One of the most common is when the beneficiaries listed in the will or the heirs in line to inherit pursuant o the Minnesota laws of intestacy are still minors at the time probate is being done.  Minors cannot directly inherit, so the assets will have to be held in a special trust and used for their benefit until they are distributed at a later time.  Formal probate is necessary for that as the process requires ongoing oversight.

Another reason why you may need to use formal probate is if there is a dispute about the validity of the will.  There are a number of reasons that a will may be disputed, such as a lack of capacity at the time the will was executed or forgery.  If there is going to be a contest over will validity, it will be necessary to use the formal probate process.

If there is a concern over the identity or whereabouts of one of the heirs, formal probate will be required.  Locating and notifying the proper heirs is a key part of any probate process, whether formal or otherwise.  If there is some difficulty in locating one, it will be difficult or even impossible to distribute the assets to that individual.  Formal probate will be required to handle this uncertainty.

If you have questions about your probate case, call us today at 651-371-9117.  We can talk to you about the process and how we can help you.