In a series of ongoing posts, our blog has been discussing how the prospect of addressing complex estate administration issues -- particularly the probate process -- in the weeks after the passing of a friend or family member can seem especially daunting.
As such, we've been providing basic background information on probate in Minnesota in an attempt to make matters a little less foreboding for people in this situation and to provide some much-needed clarity for an otherwise complex process.
What is informal probate?
As we discussed in our first post, there are situations in which probate is unavoidable. However, if it's likely that there will be no legal problems with the estate, an application can be filed with an official known as the Probate Register requesting informal probate.
In informal probate, the actual probate process is relatively straightforward, meaning that no problems are present that require "court involvement, protection, supervision or adjudication." Indeed, the Probate Register will appoint a personal representative, who will then be tasked with administering the estate.
Will the Probate Register approve most petitions for informal probate absent glaring legal issues?
Not necessarily. In general, the Probate Register will reject petitions for informal probate if the following conditions are present:
- Unknown heirs are involved.
- The original will is missing.
- The estate is bankrupt.
- The heirs have some sort of disagreement.
- Some of the heirs are minors.
- A medical assistance claim is present.
- A judge is required to sign some sort or decree/order.
What happens if the Probate Register rejects the informal probate petition?
If the Probate Register rejects the petition for informal probate, there is a very good chance the petitioner will instead need to file a petition for formal probate, something we'll explore in our next post.
Source: Minnesota Judicial Branch: 2nd District, "Estates," Accessed March 18, 2015