Minnesota Probate Law | Notice to Spouse and Children

In every probate administration in Minnesota, it is required that the personal representative of the estate (otherwise known as the executor) send a document entitled:  “Notice to Spouse and Children”.

What is this document you may ask? This article will describe why the Notice is required and what is required to be in it.

Notice to Spouse and Children - Minnesota Probate LawMinnesota Probate | Notice to Spouse and Children

Foremost, all legal proceedings are predicated on the idea of due process.  In essence, due process means that all interested parties in any legal proceeding should have the ability to receive notice of court action and to say something about it.  Due process does not mean that the interested person “wins” or “loses” – it simply means that each interested person gets to show up in court and say what they want to say.

I start with this explanation because it forms the backbone of the Notice to Spouse and Children.  In any probate proceeding, there will always be interested parties.  The interested parties are children of the deceased, grandchildren, heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors.  All of these people have the right to notice of court action and be given the ability to say what they want to say – right or wrong.

What is Required of the Notice to Spouse and Children?

The Notice document advises interested parties of a number of things.  In the main, the interested persons (spouse and children) must be given notice of the following under Minnesota law:

  • You may have right to elect a percentage of the decedent’s “augmented estate.”  See Minn. Stat. § 524.2-211, attached
  • You may be entitled to the decedent’s homestead, including a manufactured home that is the family residence. See Minn. Stat. § 524.2-402,
  • You may be entitled from the decedent’s estate:
    • (a)       property not exceeding $10,000 in value, in excess of any security interests,  in household furniture, furnishings, appliances, and personal effects, subject to an award of sentimental value property under Minn. Stat. § 525.152; and
    • (b)        one automobile, if any, without regard to value.  See Minn. Stat. § 524.2-403,
  • You may have the right to receive a family allowance during administration of the estate as provided under Minnesota law. See Minn. Stat. § 524.2‑404

The above list encompasses the statutes and requirements of notices to spouse and children.  Of course, the above does not necessarily explain what those rights mean.  A review of the pertinent statutes is necessary to fully understand the surviving spouse and children’s rights.

Who send out the Notice to Spouse and Children?

It is the personal representative’s responsibility to make sure all interested parties (the spouse and the children) receive the above notices.  The notices should be sent by U.S. Mail, but Certified Mail is often a much better idea.  Furthermore, a Minnesota probate attorney should be consulted for any changes in the law and for further advice on probating an estate.

The personal representative must understand that no matter how much he or she may dislike the other interested parties, these notices are still required.  Failing to send proper legal documents and notices is a violation of Minnesota probate law.  Furthermore, failing to follow the law may result in the personal representative being personally responsible for their mistakes.  This may be a harsh standard, but the law requires these things of a personal representative.  Again, if there are any questions a probate lawyer should be consulted.

Experienced, Knowledgeable Probate Lawyers

For more information on what is required of a personal representative or the Notice to Spouse and Children, please contact the Flanders Law Firm LLC and attorney Joseph M. Flanders – a Dakota County, Minnesota probate lawyer.  Phone:  612-424-0398.