What You Need to Know About Avoiding Probate in Minnesota

The death of a loved one is a challenging prospect to face, and many individuals would prefer to avoid the stressful and sensitive probate process. Here is how to avoid probate in Minnesota.

Minnesota Probate Laws

Probate refers to a process in which Minnesota families may determine asset distribution and property allocation following the death of a loved one. In the event that the deceased had a will in which they named beneficiaries and/or joint ownership, inheritors may be able to avoid the probate process entirely.

Following the death of a Minnesota resident, the state will determine where all of its assets and property end up going. In order to determine where the property goes, all of the deceased’s assets must be sent through a probate court and given to the new owner afterward.

In Minnesota, a probate court will not only allocate the individual’s assets but will also designate an intermediary to handle various finances and responsibilities, including:

  • Managing all assets
  • Paying all taxes and potential debts
  • Transferring assets to inheritors

Related: Filing To Be Executor of an Estate Without a Will

Probate may be a long process depending on the number of assets to distribute. While probate times vary, they may take over seven months to complete asset allocation. In order to avoid these long wait times and seek a quicker allocation of assets during this difficult period, some families may choose to forgo the probate process altogether.

Ways to Avoid Probate in Minnesota

Minnesota has several procedures in place to allow residents to avoid probate. In Minnesota, the law only requires probate if the deceased independently owned all property and did not name beneficiaries before death.

Living Trusts

An asset owner creates a living trust while alive. Living trusts can state which individuals will receive each asset after the trustee dies. The trustee must name the successor trustee to allow a smooth transfer after death. Successor trustees can avoid probate in Minnesota.

Joint Property Ownership in Minnesota

If the decedent had joint tenancy/property ownership, Minnesota would automatically grant the entire property to the co-owner. Individuals involved in joint ownership may avoid probate if the original owner allows the right of survivorship.

The right of survivorship is available to couples who own joint assets in Minnesota. This means that assets will automatically pass to the surviving owners when the other owner dies. For example, if a married couple owns a house as a joint asset when one dies, the other automatically inherits sole ownership of the property. Otherwise, the house may be distributed in probate. Joint tenancy often works well when couples acquire real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, and/or other property together. One unique caveat in Minnesota is that both of the owners must own an equal share of the property in order for them to be considered a part of the joint property ownership.

Related: How to Avoid Probate

Transfer-on-Death Registration for Securities

In cases of stocks and securities, Minnesota allows individuals to register these types of assets using a transfer-on-death form (TOD form.) Many individuals choose to hold brokerage accounts using TOD forms, and the beneficiary of the TOD form will inherit the account automatically following the death of the asset owner. This is an important way many individuals avoid probate proceedings, as following the TOD form the beneficiary of the form will engage directly with the brokerage company to transfer the account.

FAQs About Avoiding Probate in Minnesota

What are examples of probate assets in Minnesota?

Probate assets in Minnesota include life insurance, family trusts, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, retirement savings, real estate, businesses, vehicles, and all other financial or physical properties.

Do I need a lawyer to avoid probate in Minnesota?

Minnesota does not require individuals to hire a lawyer when avoiding the probate process. However, many lawyers are encouraged to help individuals provide evidence to ensure they will not go through probate. In addition, a lawyer can comprehensively evaluate the assets of their clients to ensure that their clients are fully covered, as well as help clients draft and complete a will to avoid probate.

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