Does Every Estate Need To Go To Probate Court?


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Probating of the decedent's estate is needed if there are items of property that need to be titled or transferred to his or her heirs or beneficiaries.

However, probate proceedings are not needed in cases if the decedent held all of his or her property in the name of the decedent and his or her spouse, then that estate is said to be in joint tenancy. In that case, no probate court proceeding is necessary and the transfer of the property can be made into the sole name of the surviving spouse.

If the assets of the estate are only for which the decedent has designated beneficiaries, then a probate may not be necessary. For example, life insurance policies, 401K's, IRA's, bank accounts and some real estate may be transferred to the designated beneficiaries without going through probate proceedings.

If the decedent neglected to name a beneficiary or if the beneficiary died before the primary decedent than probate proceedings may still be necessary.

In Minnesota, if the assets do not include real estate and if the assets of the decedent are worth less than $50,000, probate can usually be avoided with the preparation of an affidavit of collection. This document should be prepared by a probate attorney to be sure all the legal formalities are followed. This informal process provides a simple and effective way to get the estate settled without probate proceedings.

Sometimes people want to avoid probate at all costs. Sometimes this is possible. However, it is important to use an attorney knowledgeable in probate processes to be sure everything is done right.

You don't want to find out in six months or in a year or two that something was done wrong. At that point, trying to correct a mistake can result in considerable inconvenience and expense.

The contents of this article are for information only and is not to be interpreted as legal advice. For personal legal advice you should consult with an attorney who is experienced in probate law or estate planning. The U.S. Treasury Department requires us to advise you that any written tax advice cannot be used and is not intended to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding any penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code. Written advice from our firm relating to any Federal Tax matters may not, without our express written consent, be used in promoting, marketing or recommending any entity, investment plan or arrangement to any taxpayer.

About the Author

Bill Peterson is a Minnesota Probate Attorney with over 40 years of experience as a lawyer. His firm, Peterson Law Office, is pleased to help sort out the intricacies of Minnesota Probate. For more information, please visit http://www.mnprobate.com or call toll free at 1-888-910-5297.

The contents of this article are for information only and is not to be interpreted as legal advice. For personal legal advice you should consult with an attorney who is experienced in probate law or estate planning.

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