Minnesota Summary Proceedings | Minn. Stat. 524.3-1203

A full Minnesota probate is not always necessary.  There are alternate estate administration procedures available to Minnesota residents. Contact a Minnesota probate attorney to discuss your option.

A personal representative or an interested person may file a petition with the court asking the court to determine that, because the decedent’s probate assets do not exceed certain specified limits, the assets should be summarily assigned and distributed to the appropriate persons.

If upon hearing the court determines that there is no need for the appointment of a representative and that the administration should be closed summarily because all of the property in the estate is exempt from all debts and charges in the probate court, a final decree or order of distribution will be signed, with or without notice, distributing property to the appropriate persons.

In certain instances, a personal representative may close an estate administered under the summary procedures of Minnesota Statutes section 524.3-1203 by filing with the court, at any time after disbursement and distribution of the estate, a sworn statement.

  1. Summary Administration

The statutes provide for summary administration in the following cases.

  1. No Probate Assets Exist for Administration

If the sole asset of the estate is later determined to be a non-probate asset, any interested person may petition the court to close the administration summarily.

  1. Assets Have Been Lost Irretrievably

Sometimes an estate administration is begun in an attempt to preserve an asset or to recover one. If this effort is unsuccessful, the administration may be closed summarily upon the petition of an interested person showing ”that the property has been destroyed, abandoned, lost, or rendered valueless, and that no recovery has been had nor can be had ….”

  1. Only Exempt Assets Exist

Probate assets may exist, but if they are not available for payment to creditors, then no purpose is served by administration. The term “administration” refers to “acts of the representative in collecting property, taking possession thereof, and preserving it, converting it into cash, applying the proceeds to the payment of claims and distributing the residue.” Bengtson v. Setterberg, 227 Minn. 337,358,35 N.W.2d 623, 633 (1949). If there is nothing from which creditors may be paid, there may be nothing to administer, and therefore administration is unjustified. Cf. McHugo v. Norton, 159 Minn. 90, 92 (1924).

Moreover, if assets are exempt from creditors’ claims, no purpose is served by waiting four months to close the estate administration. An earlier closing does not harm the creditors, for they have lost nothing. If the only function of the representative is to deliver the property to the heirs or devisees, then the administration can be closed and the property decreed summarily upon petition by an interested person.
A hearing with published notice is required for a petition to decree exempt property summarily; however, the decree may issue after the hearing without a claims period. Examples of exempt assets are discussed below.

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