How to Avoid Probate | The Benefits of Bypassing Probate Through The Small Estate Exception

How to Avoid Probate in MinnesotaThe Benefits of Bypassing Probate Through The Small Estate Exception

We’ve all heard that probate is a process best avoided, if possible. It can take time, costs money and involves prolonged contact with a court, all things most people would prefer to steer clear of. Probate can be avoided with the help of an experienced Minnesota estate-planning attorney.

The good news is that in other cases probate can also be avoided (or expedited) just because of the size of the estate.

Why would the size of the estate matter? The reason that certain small estates are exempted from certain aspects of the probate process is to avoid wasting precious resources. If a person only leaves behind a few thousand dollars, it would be unjust to spend a substantial percentage of that going through probate trying to figure out whom to disburse the money to.

Far better to let the heirs apply for an expedited process that allows them to walk away with a larger amount in their pockets and less in the probate court’s coffers.

Minnesota Small Estate Affidavit process

If inheritors follow certain steps, Minnesota law allows them to skip the probate process altogether, provided, of course, the estate clears certain financial hurdles. Under the simple affidavit process, all an inheritor has to do is prepare a short affidavit that explains that he or she is entitled to a certain asset.

The document must be signed under oath and can then be presented to a bank or other financial institution holding an asset. The bank then gets the affidavit and a copy of the person’s death certificate and will then release the asset. This simple affidavit process is possible in Minnesota only if the entire estate does not exceed $75,000. The only other rule to keep in mind is that you must wait 30 days after the person’s death to use the affidavit.

Simplified probate

Small estates can also use what is known as a simplified probate process. This less burdensome approach requires an executor fill out a written request from the local probate court asking to use the simplified probate procedure. The court will then decide whether to grant the executor the authority to distribute assets without going through all the steps usually associated with probate. The simplified process can be used in Minnesota only after the court ensures that no property is subject to claims by creditors.

Are there any downsides? So far it sounds like a universally appealing option if it’s available to you. If you are set to inherit a small estate then anything that helps reduce the time and expense associated with securing that inheritance is a great thing.

One word of warning, though it can be good to avoid the cost of paying a lawyer, if you have any concerns about the estate or the steps involved in finalizing the process, it’s better to take a moment and seek an experienced opinion rather than potentially make a mess that could cost even more money to fix down the road. Even small estates can include complicated questions that would benefit from the wisdom of a skilled estate-planning attorney.

Minnesota Probate Lawyers

An experienced Minnesota probate lawyer can help walk you through the probate process, answering questions along the way. For more information on estate planning in Minnesota, along with a variety of other topics, contact Joseph M. Flanders of Flanders Law Firm at (612) 424-0398.

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