Probate – FAQs


MN Attorney Generals Probate Discussion

The following is an excerpt from a probate and estate planning pamphlet provided by the office of MN State attorney General Lori Swanson. To read the entire pamphlet, try here.

What is probate?
Probate is the legal process of settling your estate
in court after you die. Your property is gathered and
inventoried, your debts are paid, and everything left
over is divided among your heirs. Your personal
representative is responsible for “probating” your
will. If you have no will or did not name a personal
representative, the court will appoint one for you.
Probating a will begins by filing an application with
the probate court. Probate ends when all debts and
taxes are paid and all assets are distributed. If there
is disagreement over your will, a probate judge will
resolve the differences.

When is probate necessary
Probate laws in Minnesota apply to the estates of
people who were residents of Minnesota at the time
of their death. Probate also applies to other states’
residents who own real property in Minnesota.
Having a will does not avoid probate. The need for
probate depends on what property you own and
whether you own it alone or with others.

What items are not subject to probate?
Some kinds of property and assets do not need to
be probated. These include property owned as joint
tenants, jointly held bank accounts, payable-ondeath accounts,
life insurance proceeds to a specific
beneficiary, and pension benefits with a designated
beneficiary in the event you die.

How do I probate an estate?
Your personal representative starts a probate
proceeding by filing an application or petition with
the probate court in the county where you lived
at the time of your death. Probate proceedings in
Minnesota may be either formal or informal and
generally must be initiated within three years after
the decedent’s death. The services of an attorney
may be needed in order to correctly probate an

Do you need assistance probating an estate? Contact Martin now!