What to know about probate

When a person dies, it may be necessary for their estate to go through probate. While there is no guarantee of how long it will take to complete the probate process in Minnesota, most take about 24 months to finish. The process starts when an estate holder passes away. At this point, the executor will petition for probate. This can be done anywhere the deceased lived or owned property.

Individuals have the right to name their own executors. If one is not listed in a will, a court will represent someone to do so. During the probate process itself, the executor will inventory the deceased person's assets, send out notices to creditors and pay any bills or taxes owed. If creditors make claims, the executor will need to either accept them or issue a denial if there is not enough evidence that they are credible.

There are many different costs related to going through probate. For instance, it is often necessary to pay estate administration legal fees. Since the costs related to probate are paid for by the estate's assets, this could reduce the inheritance an heir receives. For this and other reasons, some choose to avoid probate if possible.

While probate may not be time consuming and expensive for everyone, some may prefer to obtain closure in a timely and private manner. Putting assets into a trust or using a beneficiary designation may allow assets such as a house, car or bank account to transfer almost immediately. If a trust is created, it will need to be funded. Ideally, trusts, beneficiary designations and other estate plan documents will be reviewed on a regular basis by the creator and their lawyer.

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