Probate is a legal process that takes place after someone dies. It includes:
- Proving in court that a deceased person’s will is valid (usually a routine matter).
- Identifying and inventorying the deceased person’s property.
- Having the property appraised.
- Paying debts and taxes.
- Distributing the remaining property as the will (or state law, if there’s no will) directs.
Typically, probate involves paperwork and court appearances by lawyers. The lawyers and court fees are paid from estate property, which would otherwise go to the people who inherit the deceased person’s property.
Probate usually works like this: After your death, the person you named in your will as personal representative — or, if you die without a will, the person appointed by a judge — files papers in the local probate court. The personal representative proves the validity of your will and presents the court with lists of your property, your debts, and who is to inherit what you’ve left. Then, relatives and creditors are officially notified of your death.
Your personal representative must find, secure, and manage your assets during the probate process, which commonly takes a few months to a year. Depending on the contents of your will, and on the amount of your debts, the personal representative may have to decide whether or not to sell your real estate, securities, or other property. For example, if your will makes a number of cash bequests but your estate consists mostly of valuable artwork, your collection might have to be appraised and sold to produce cash. Or, if you have many outstanding debts, your personal representative might have to sell some of your property to pay them.
In most states, immediate family members may ask the court to release short-term support funds while the probate proceedings lumber on. Then, eventually, the court will grant your personal representative permission to pay your debts and taxes and divide the rest among the people or organizations named in your will. Finally, your property will be transferred to its new owners.
The Minnesota Probate Lawyers at Kallemeyn & Kallemeyn are experts in all aspects of the estate planning and probate process, and are more than happy to offer you a free consultation on what your needs might be and what your estate might require.
For more information, contact our office at 763-427-5131 or contact Charles Kallemeyn at Charles@Kallemeyn.com