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Helping You Through The Probate Process In The Twin Cities And Beyond

Losing a loved one is difficult. Coping with the loss, and addressing a loved one’s legal affairs can be overwhelming. Our team navigates the challenging probate process with knowledge, understanding, care and support to promote family harmony whenever possible. Relax, we will take care of you.

Compassionate, Skilled Guidance In Trust Administration And Probate Issues

Confusing, complex, and frustrating best describes the probate and trust administration process. Each situation is unique. Sometimes, there is a will, but it might be old and could fail to reflect the desires or most recent life circumstances of the person who passed away. Sometimes, the emotional turmoil and grief at the loss of a loved one causes conflict among family members.

At rb LEGAL, LLC, we will guide you through every step of the probate or trust administration process. Our probate lawyers and staff are sensitive to these common probate situations and issues. Our goal is to promote family harmony whenever possible as we ensure that assets are distributed as required by law. From our office in Golden Valley, we represent clients in Minneapolis, St. Paul, the Twin Cities metro area and statewide.

What To Expect From The Probate Process

When you work with us, our priority is to bring clarity to the process to help you make informed decisions through every step. Our attorneys will help you:

  • Determine what type of probate process is appropriate
  • Initiate the probate filing with the county
  • Secure the appointment of a personal representative
  • Collect the decedent’s assets
  • Handle and negotiate debts and claims
  • Sell the decedent’s real estate
  • Prepare an accounting, if required
  • Make disbursements and close the estate
  • Handle trusts and work with accountants, financial advisors, and other professionals throughout the administrative process.

Our experienced probate team provides compassionate and professional legal services to both Minnesota and out-of-state clients. We will listen to your questions and concerns and make every possible effort to give you peace of mind and assist you through the completion of your loved one’s estate.

FAQs About The Probate Process

At rb LEGAL, LLC, we have helped our clients through emotional times and answered the most difficult legal questions after a loved one has passed. Below, we share other questions we have addressed at our Twin Cities office.

How is the distribution process handled during probate?

In Minnesota, the individual selected to serve as the personal representative follows the instructions set out in the will to distribute assets and property. If the deceased passed without leaving a will, state laws determine how the estate will be divided.

My deceased loved one had a will. What should I do next?

A will should go through the probate process. To start the process, you or your legal representative needs to fill out an application to the Minnesota county’s probate court where the decedent resided. The probate process may be informal or formal. The latter applies to more complex probate cases that require a judge’s supervision and decision-making. We recommend having an attorney guide you through the process to represent your best interests.

What exactly is probate?

Probate is the process through which a probate court validates a will and authorizes and oversees property distribution among the named beneficiaries. However, not all wills may go through probate. If assets typically subject to probate do not surpass $75,000 in value, then probate might not be necessary.

I was named a personal representative in a will. What are my duties?

Your duties include collecting and gathering the testator’s (the person who wrote the will) property, paying relevant taxes and debts, appraising property if required, and distributing property among the beneficiaries named in a will. These tasks can be overwhelming, so working with a knowledgeable attorney to guide you through the entire process is a good idea.

I want to draft an estate plan, but can I avoid probate?

Yes. You may transfer ownership of your assets through a living trust. An experienced estate planning lawyer can help you develop a strategy and explain what assets you may transfer through a trust. Your attorney can also explain circumstances where you might need a will.

Are there any types of assets that can bypass the probate process?

Not every asset associated with estate administration passes through probate. If the deceased owned their home or other property as joint tenants with their spouse or other loved one, ownership passes to the surviving owner. Joint and payable-on-death bank accounts also transfer outside of probate. Life insurance payouts go to the designated beneficiary without the need for probate, as do pension benefits.

What is the difference between formal and informal probate proceedings?

In Minnesota, most estates go through informal probate, which means a personal representative handles settling the debts, distribution of assets to heirs, and so forth, under the supervision of a court registrar, not a judge. Formal probate is more like a traditional court proceeding, with a probate judge more closely overseeing the process. A formal proceeding might be needed if complications exist, like questions about the will’s validity or a dispute between heirs.

What steps are involved in the probate process?

The first step is to file a petition with the court in the county where the decedent lived. The court will then appoint someone as personal representative, generally the person named in the decedent’s will. The personal representative (also called the executor) then must collect, inventory and appraise the decedent’s assets, and make sure they are protected.

Next, the personal representative must provide adequate notice to the decedent’s creditors that he or she has died and settle all creditor claims. The final step is to distribute the remaining assets to the appropriate heirs.

This can be a confusing, detailed process, often with language that is unique to probate.  An experienced probate attorney can help you or manage this for you.

Could somebody challenge the will?

While will challenges are rare in Minnesota, they do happen occasionally. An heir or someone believing they were supposed to be an heir could claim that the will the personal representative filed in court was invalid in some way. Reasons for which a probate judge might invalidate a will include:

  • The testator signed the will under duress, meaning somebody threatened, manipulated, or tricked them into signing it.
  • The testator lacked testamentary capacity when they signed the will. This means they did not understand the will’s contents or the implications of signing, often due to dementia, mental illness, or the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • After the will was executed, the testator created another will that voided the first one.
  • Technical violations, such as not having two people witness the signing.
  • Also handwritten wills are not allowed in Minnesota.

The personal representative will need strong legal guidance if there is a will challenge.

Why should I consider hiring a probate attorney, and how can they assist me before and during the probate process?

Personal representatives must follow strict rules governing deadlines, the order of payment for debts, and distribution of the estate, otherwise they might risk expensive litigation. An experienced probate attorney can help take this burden off you and facilitate a smoother, more efficient probate process. For grieving families, having a probate lawyer to help can allow them to focus on healing and maintaining family relationships.

Call For The Compassionate Legal Services You Deserve

Call our Golden Valley office at 763-400-8833 or send us a confidential email using our secure online intake form. Let us help you with your legal burden.