Probate Process Step Two: Personal Representative
February 25, 2014This blog post is part of a series of posts on the probate process. This is the second step. If you would like to read the first step, please click HERE.
After you have met and retained an attorney it is time to start collecting the remaining information and begin preparing the initial documents. If your deceased loved one (or “the decedent” as he/she will be referred to in the court proceedings) had a Will, the Will states who is the Personal Representative. The Personal Representative’s job in the probate proceeding is to collect all the probate assets, and administer according to the decedent’s Will. If the decedent did not have a Will, the Personal Representative will follow Minn. Stat. §524. Minn. Stat. §524 include the intestacy statutes – meaning without a Will.
Regardless of whether the decedent had a Will or not, the Personal Representative now becomes the attorney’s client. The Personal Representative must work with the attorney to determine which assets are probate assets and which assets are the non-probate assets. The probate process only handles the probate assets, so sometimes this is where the process ends. Sometimes the attorney will help with administrating the non-probate assets. Non-probate assets may include retirement accounts, life insurance, joint bank accounts or real estate held as joint tenants with right of survivorship.
If the decedent had any probate assets, the attorney will help the Personal Representative determine the best course of action. Probate assets may include anything titled in the decedent’s name alone. This may include bank accounts, car titles, real estate, or real estate held with another as tenants in common.
There are three main options the Personal Representative may use to administer the probate. However, depending on your specific case, only one or two options may be applicable. The first is only an option if the probate estate is under a certain amount. This amount varies from state to state, and may increase or decrease over time. Currently in Minnesota, the “small estate” limit is $50,000. There are different rules of procedure if the estate falls into this category versus the next two options. It is very important to talk with your attorney to see if the estate you are administering falls into that category.
The other two options in the probate proceeding are: an informal administration or a formal administration. Both options have their pros and cons and should be carefully decided with an attorney. Counties in Minnesota have different processes depending on whether the probate is informal or formal. This should be part of the consideration when deciding informal versus formal administration. After the decision is made, it is time to begin the initial documents to open the probate.
If you have questions regarding the probate process, please contact Claire Tralle at 612-787-2553 to set up a consultation.