Probate is a word that you will hear a lot when you start to look into the subject of estate planning. In this post we will provide a basic overview so that you can go forward with some knowledge about the process of probate in Minnesota.
Let’s say that you leave behind your final wishes in a will. You name a personal representative to follow through after you pass away and distribute the assets that comprise your estate to the beneficiaries that you name in your last will.
This arrangement is not private between you and your personal representative. The personal representative is going to administer the estate under the supervision of the probate court.
Your outstanding debts do not just disappear when you pass away in possession of assets that could be used to settle these rightful debts. During the process of probate, the business of the estate is conducted, and this includes taking care of any outstanding debts, including tax responsibilities.
Another thing to consider is the possibility of someone challenging the will. It can seem totally negative if you envision someone disgruntled challenging your will. You know that you were of sound mind when you executed it, and all the choices contained within your will are your true wishes.
However, let’s say that your aging mother passed away. After a few years you begin to suspect that your father is not of totally sound mind but you take no action. He decides to get married to a woman who is 40 years his junior. You have suspicions about the intentions of his new spouse.
After he passes away, you find that the last will that he had before his remarriage has been supplanted by a new one. You and all of your siblings have been disinherited, and his new spouse inherits everything under the terms of this last will.
Where could you turn if you believed the will should not be deemed valid? The answer is that the probate court would hear your arguments and make a final determination.
If there are no challenges and everything goes smoothly, the personal representative will still have a great many tasks to complete depending on the extent of the estate. Debts must be paid assuming they’re valid, and the personal representative will be charged with the responsibility of preparing the assets for distribution to the beneficiaries.
This can involve arranging appraisals and liquidating property, which can be a time-consuming process. It should be noted that the beneficiaries to the estate do not receive their inheritances until the estate has been probated and closed.
In the final analysis, probate provides protections, but it also comes with some pitfalls.