Being named as the personal representative in the will of your friend or family member is a high compliment, as the person has determined that you are resourceful and trustworthy enough to properly administer his or her estate after his or her death. There are many resources available online and at local libraries discussing who to administer an estate without the assistance of an experienced probate attorney. However, there are many reasons why you should retain an attorney instead of attempting to navigate the process yourself.
First, probate has very strict requirements for notice. As personal representative, you will be responsible for making sure that the correct beneficiaries and creditors receive adequate and proper notice of the pending probate case. The manner and timing of these notices are also very important. An experienced attorney can make sure that these notices are sent and received in the manner required by law.
Another reason is that Minnesota law has particular waiting period requirements and priority categorization for creditors. After the creditors receive the proper notice, they have four months to file a notice of claim. It will then be up to the personal representative to make sure that the claim is valid and payable. In addition, some creditors have the right under Minnesota law to be paid before others. If the personal representative pays the wrong creditor at the wrong time, it is possible the personal representative may be personally responsible for reimbursing the estate for the incorrectly distributed funds.
An experienced attorney can also be instrumental in assisting to identify which assets pass outside of probate. For example, real property held as joint tenants with a spouse will not need to go through probate. Life insurance proceeds or pension benefits also do not usually pass through probate. Instead, those assets will pass directly to the named beneficiaries. The probate attorney can help make sure the proper assets are immediately transferred while the estate assets remain to be distributed.
Finally, an experienced attorney can help protect against and litigate against slighted relatives who feel they should have inherited. Will contests can be complicated and it is important to have representation to defend against any spurious claims.
Call us today at 651-413-9568 to set up an appointment to talk about your obligations and responsibilities as a personal representative. We can help you understand what you need to do to get the estate properly administered.