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Probate court has jurisdiction over cases that involve the disposition of property belonging to persons that have died. The Probate court operates under the Uniform Probate Code, Minnesota Statutes 524 and 525 and the Rules of Civil Procedure. The first step is to determine if a probate proceeding is necessary or not. All estates are not required to be probated. Under the Minnesota Probate Statute the decedent must own real estate in their name alone or have probate assets that total more than $20,000.00. You may want the assistance of an attorney or legal advisor to help in making a determination as to which way to proceed. Below are the most frequently used procedures.
TYPES OF PROCEEDINGS
Informal probate is designed for estates in which there is no need for court supervision or a judicial adjudication. To qualify for the informal process, an estate must be free of uncertainties, legal disputes or complex administrative requirements. The Probate Registrar has the ability to decline an application if it is determined that all the statutory requirements are not met. Once the forms are completed and accepted the Probate Registrar appoints the personal representative.
Formal Probate (Unsupervised/ Supervised)
Formal proceedings require a hearing before the Judge. In Dakota County no appearance by the attorney or personal representative is necessary at this hearing unless an objection is filed with the court.
Determination of Descent
When a decedent has been dead for more than three years and no prior proceedings exist, statutes require the estate to be processed through Determination of Descent proceedings. See Minnesota Statutes for requirements and procedures or contact an attorney or legal advisor.
If the gross probate assets of an estate do not exceed $30,000.00 (excluding the exempt homestead), the estate may qualify for a Summary Assignment. There are two Summary Assignment subtypes: Exempt Summary and Non-Exempt Summary. See Minnesota Statutes for requirements and procedures or contact an attorney or legal advisor.
Roles of the Personal Representative
The principle duties of the personal representative are –
Ø Determine whether decedent left a will.
Ø Prepare a list of names, ages, addresses of decedent’s heirs and devisees.
Ø Compile a list of probate and non-probate assets and their value.
Ø Protect and preserve assets.
Ø Pay taxes and debts and distribute remaining assets.
The personal representative is personally responsible for probating the estate completely and correctly, according to statute, and to bring it to a prompt conclusion. Most estates are expected to be completed within an 18 month period. If additional time is needed, petition the court for an extension.