In Minnesota, opening an estate means filing a petition in a Minnesota Probate Court such that assets of the person who died can be distributed. When a petition is filed to open an estate, the petition requests either an informal proceeding or a formal proceeding.
When an estate is opened, there are many pitfalls that can cause trouble. For example, the process of opening an estate can differ depending on whether the person who died had a will, was married, had children, had creditors, or was insolvent.
When an estate is opened in Minnesota, a petition will request the designation of a “personal representative.” Once formally designated, a personal representative has the duty to administer assets of the estate. Without opening an estate a personal representative cannot be assigned. As a result, the most significant element of a petition asking a Minnesota Court to open an estate is the designation of a personal representative.
Also, opening an estate in Minnesota is a significant process when trying to distribute assets of a loved one because both creditors and “interested persons” can serve as a personal representative despite a Will stating otherwise.
Additionally, opening an estate is a public process. Once opened, notice to creditors is required and the contents or value of a person’s estate becomes public knowledge. Once an estate is opened, the remaining elements of the process include administering estate assets and closing an estate. Between opening an estate and closing an estate, this process can take many consecutive months.
If you are considering opening an estate or need representation with this process, please consider contacting an estate lawyer for help and advisement.