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When is probate necessary?

There are few things more difficult for St. Paul residents than losing a loved one. The emotional toll that one experiences after a loved one's death can be immediate and deep. And yet, as the grieving process continues, there are matters that must be taken care of to deal with the deceased person's affairs.

One primary matter that is often addressed after a loved one's death is the process of probate administration. Probate, which is the process of transferring a person's assets after death, does not take place in every case. Different factors influence whether probate is necessary, including the size of a person's estate and the type of assets he or she owned.

For example, bank accounts with payable-on-death provisions typically are transferred outside of probate. Similarly, if the person owned personal property in an amount less than $50,000, the probate proceeding may not be required.

If probate is necessary, a petition must be filed with the court in the county where the deceased person lived. On the other hand, a formal probate may not be needed, and an application for informal probate can be used. Accordingly, like the decision of whether to probate an estate, the specifics of the probate proceeding will vary depending on the circumstances involved.

By going through the probate proceeding, the deceased person's estate can be administered. Debts of the estate and claims that may be made against the estate will be addressed, as well as the proper distribution of assets to those entitled to the deceased person's assets. Accordingly, individuals who have lost a loved one should be aware of whether they need to probate a deceased person's estate and how that process occurs.

Source: Minnesota Judicial Branch, "Probate Court," accessed on June 19, 2015

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