What Does Probate Even Mean?

If you have recently lost a family member or loved one, you likely know that there are many things that need to be done soon after the death.  The funeral must be planned, relatives notified, and moving forward with the grieving process, just to name a few.  In most cases, probate will be required to deal with the debts and assets of the estate.  If you have recently lost a loved one, you may be wondering what “probate” even means.

At its core, probate is simply the process of gathering the assets of the estate, paying the estate’s debts, and distributing the remaining property according to the provisions of the will of the deceased or, if there is no will, according to the laws of intestacy.  Although there is a common misconception that probate is not necessary if there is a valid last will and testament, that is not true.  Probate will be required where the deceased owned at least $75,000 worth of assets at the time of his or her death or if the deceased owned real estate, even if the property is worth less than $75,000.

Like other legal proceedings, there are specific rules and requirements for probate.  The person who is responsible for making sure the process goes according to the law and to the provisions of the will is called the “personal representative,” although some also call this person the executor.  The personal representative will need to commence the probate case with the court, gather the deceased’s assets, and notify creditors and beneficiaries.  The personal representative is responsible for reviewing any claims for debts against the estate and paying those debts in a particular order, according to Minnesota law.  The personal representative must identify potential beneficiaries or heirs of the estate and provide them with notice of the probate case.  The personal representative is also responsible for distributing the assets that remain after the debts are paid.  These assets will be distributed either according to the terms of the will or according to Minnesota law if there is no will.  Although there are some cases that will require formal probate, many cases are eligible for informal probate, which a simpler and faster method.

We have extensive experience helping our clients with all types of probate issues. Call us today at 651-413-9568 and let us help you.