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Probate Court has jurisdiction over cases involving the disposition of property owned by people who have passed away; administration of court-supervised trusts; and proceedings to create guardianships or conservatorships for minor children, incapacitated or incompetent adults.
Probate law is based on the ecclesiastical law of the church, and historically this court was known as the 'widows and orphans court'. The Probate Court now operates under the Uniform Probate Code in MN Statutes Chapter 524 and Chapter 525, and the Rules of Civil Procedure.
Wills Deposited with the Court
Deposit of Wills with the Court During Testator’s Lifetime ("Safekeeping" Purpose):
Pursuant to MN Statutes § 524.2-515, a testator or his agent may deposit the testator’s will with any court for safekeeping. This is similar to placing the will in a safe deposit box at a bank. The statute provides the following safeguards:
- will must be sealed;
- will must be kept confidential;
- once deposited with court, the original will may only be delivered to the testator or a person authorized in a writing signed by the testator to receive the will;
- a conservator or guardian may be allowed to examine the will of a protected person under court procedures designed to maintain confidentiality;
- upon receiving notification of the death of the testator, the court may deliver the will to the appropriate court.
Currently, there is a fee for depositing a will with the court. A testator may deposit a will, codicil(s) and separate writing(s) all for the same fee. If made in separate deposits, there will be separate fees.
If a testator dies domiciled in the county where the will is deposited, an "interested party" may obtain a copy of testator/decedent’s will upon providing the court with proof of death, such as an obituary notice, death certificate or funeral card.
Deposit of Wills after Testator’s Death ("Custodial" Purpose):
The law in MN Statutes § 524.2-516 says that upon the “death of a testator and on request of an interested person, a person having custody of a will of the testator shall (emphasis added) deliver it with reasonable promptness to an appropriate court.” If the custodian of a will does not deliver it to the court, the consequences could include:
- the person who fails to so deliver the will is liable to the aggrieved party for damages resulting from the failure;
- the willful refusal after being ordered by a court in a proceeding to compel delivery of the will makes the person subject to the penalty for contempt of court.
Currently, there is no service fee for depositing a will for custodial purposes.
Safekeeping Accounts (SAM)
Probate/Mental Health Court is required to keep passbooks, certificates, and other evidence of investments that have been deposited with the court pursuant to court order on behalf of minors (see the law at MN Statutes § 524.3-915(b) and § 525.6197), and those deposited on behalf of adult wards and conservatees in accordance with MN Statutes § 525.552. There are currently 7,761 safekeeping accounts under Probate Court order, with assets totaling $5,482,359.40 as of June 30, 2005.
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