Getting Letters Testamentary in a Minnesota probate

Perhaps the number 1 question that my office receives in regard to Minnesota probates is:  How do I get Letters Testamentary?

The simple answer to that question is that a probate process must be started.  Naturally, the follow-up question is often:  how do I do that?

The Minnesota Probate Process

In order to receive letters testamentary, a personal representative (executor) of the estate must be appointed by a district court in Minnesota.  The proper court will be located in the county where the deceased person lived (domicile) or had assets.

The personal representative will be chosen in the deceased’s Will.  Sometimes more than one person is nominated.  Most of the time, this person accepts the responsibility and agrees to serve the deceased person’s estate.   Once this person is located, he or she will need to draft a petition to the district court to have the estate process begun.

Beginning the Probate Process in Minnesota

Once the personal representative has petitioned the court, he or she will need to also submit proposed Orders, Letters Testamentary, an Acceptance of Appointment and Oath, and nomination documents from the heirs, devisees, distributees, and other interested parties of the estate.  The personal representative will also need to choose between an informal or formal estate.  This person will also need to determine whether the estate will be supervised or unsupervised.  If you have question about any of this, consult with a qualified Minnesota probate attorney.

Once the proper process is chosen, the court or probate registrar of the county will set the matter for hearing.  In between the time of the filing of the petition and the hearing, the personal representative must do two important things:  (1) locate all heirs, creditors, and interest parties and (2) publish notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the deceased lived. Once these steps have been followed, the personal representative needs to testify that he/she did this in a court document called an Affidavit of Mailing.  Furthermore, an Affidavit of Publication will need to be filed with the probate court or registrar to show that the notice of hearing and notice to creditors has been filed in the newspaper.

The court hearing

Assuming the above has been accomplished and done properly (again, consulting with a probate lawyer should be done) then the court or registrar will hold a hearing.  The personal representative may need to testify before the judge on the petition.  Once this is done, the court will appoint the petitioner as the personal representative of the estate, tell the personal representative the he/she must follow the law, and then, finally, the court will issue Letters Testamentary.  That’s it.  Easy, right?

Minnesota Probate Lawyers

Contact Flanders Law Firm LLC and attorney Joseph Flanders if you have questions about getting Letters Testamentary in a Minnesota probate.  The firm offers free initial consultation to all clients.  Call the law firm today at 612-424-0398.

Minnesota Attorney General Information

Click on the following link for more information from the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office regarding Minnesota probates.

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North Dakota Legal Services - Flanders Law Firm LLCIf you own a small or medium-sized business the issue of succession planning needs to be of paramount concern.

Though people may realize the necessity of Minnesota wills, health care directives and other more common estate-planning tools, it may not be as obvious to create a succession plan. In some cases, business owners assume wrongly that their children are prepared for the hand-off or understand what is expected of them. Without a clear plan that has been worked out with those around you, the continuity of the business you worked so hard to build is far from assured.

Experts interviewed in a recent New York Times article said that business owners who fail to create a workable succession plan are asking for trouble. Not only can the lack of a plan lead to the destruction of your business, but it can also lead to the division of your family. In far too many cases where there is no clear plan in place, family members begin squabbling over the future of the company, who will take over and how it ought to be managed. This in fighting can cause not only strained relationships, but ultimately poison the health of the company.

So what can you do to prepare a succession plan? Keep reading to find out.

Minnesota Estate Planning: Choose a successor

This is the first and often the most difficult step in creating a good Minnesota small business succession plan. Many business owners put off the entire process due to the anxiety that exists around choosing a person to take your place. This can be a fraught emotional issue and has the potential to lead to bruised egos. However, no planning can take place without this so it needs to be tackled head-on.

One tip that experts have to make the process of choosing a successor easier is to consider making the decision more scientific. Companies exist that can put family members through rigorous analysis, making them submit to interviews and personality testing. This kind of merit-based approach ensures that issues like birth order or gender don’t cloud the decision-making process and can help guarantee that the best person for the job is chosen.

Make sure they’re ready

Once you’ve settled on the person you want to take over you need to ensure they are actually ready for the job when the time comes. Business owners should make sure to bring the successor in on important decisions, allowing them to get a feel for the kind of issues they will have to deal with in the future. Sending children to work at various components of the business is another way to guarantee they have a complete feel for how the company operates.

Keep valuable employees happy

In cases where you’ve settled on a successor and the person is a family member, it’s possible that other non-family employees may feel overlooked as a result. Just because they weren’t chosen as a successor does not mean they are not valuable, and keeping them around can be critical to the future success of your company.

One way to navigate this tricky issue is to bring crucial non-family employees into the company, either with increased decision-making powers or giving them a share of the company, anything to make them feel personally invested in the ultimate success of the operation.

Consider a sale

The fact is that not every small business owner has a relative ready or willing to take over operations. Some people may simply not be a good fit for the job and others are either too young or too inexperienced to handle the job. As a result, a sale might be in everyone’s best interest.

Besides a total sale of the company, business owners can consider having a partner or long-term employee buy them out, often spreading the payments out over a number of years. Another option is to create an employee stock ownership plan that allows workers to purchase shares of the business from the owner, creating liquidity for the owners while keeping the company in employees’ hands.

Though it may be confusing, creating an effective estate plan does not have to be an overly complicated process. An experienced Minnesota estate planning lawyer can help walk you through the process of establishing or updating a will or trust. For more information on estate planning in Minnesota, along with a variety of other topics, contact Joseph M. Flanders of Flanders Law Firm at (612) 424-0398.

Source: “How to Prepare Your Business for Succession,” by Ian Mount, published at NYTimes.com.

 

Free Initial Consultations

Contact the Flanders Law Firm today.  The firm offers free consultations to all potential clients.  Call (612) 424-0398.

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