Dakota County

Minnesota Probate LawProbate and Estate Administration in Dakota County, MN

The probate process in Dakota County, Minnesota can be complicated.  This page will serve as an explanation of the process and what you might expect if you are serving as the personal representative of a probate estate in Dakota County.

Probate Terminology

First, understanding the proper legal terminology that a probate lawyer uses, is a good idea.  A “decedent” is the person who has passed away.  That person has an “estate” which may or may not need to be probated.  Minnesota probate law refers to the person who will be in charge of the estate as a personal representative.  That person can be nominated in the decedent’s Will or, if the decedent did not have a Will, then that person can be nominated by the “heirs” or other “interested parties” of the estate.

If a person dies with a Will, then that person has died “testate”.  If a person dies without a Will, then he or she has died “intestate.”  Below is further information on the probate process in Minnesota and Dakota County:


The Minnesota Uniform Probate Code uses the term “personal representative” instead of the term “executor”.  Therefore, the fiduciary who serves the estate is called a personal representative in Minnesota.  A personal representative will receive “letters testamentary” from a court if the decedent left a Will.  If the decedent did not leave a Will, then the personal representative will receive “letters of general administration” once that person is duly appointed by the Dakota County probate court.

The duties and powers of the personal representative in Dakota County are set forth in Minnesota Statutes 524.3, et seq.  It is the personal representative’s duty to settle and distribute the estate of a decedent in accordance with the terms of the decedent’s will, or if none, the Minnesota “intestate” laws.

The personal representative must perform these duties as quickly and efficiently as possible, while acting in the best interests of the estate.  Every personal representative, once appointed by a Dakota County judge, has the right to and shall take possession or control of the decedent’s property as is necessary to conduct a probate estate administration.

The personal representative is also responsible for paying taxes and taking all steps necessary for the management, protection, and preservation of the decedent’s estate.


Minnesota law tells us that the property of a deceased person (“decedent”) passes at his or her death to those persons named in the Will or the decedent’s heirs via an “intestate” proceeding.  However, before property can pass, the person’s or companies (“creditors”) that a decedent owed money to may need to be paid.  The claims provisions of the probate code try to balance the desire to distribute the decedent’s property to heirs and other qualified persons with the rights of creditors who deserved to be paid.  To balance this conflict, the probate law provides that a personal representative must:

  • Identify creditors – those who may claim to be entitled to the property of the estate
  • Identify controversy as to whether a creditor is actually owed any money by the decedent or by the estate
  • Provide a mechanism for resolving conflicts as to the debts owed by the decedent to the creditor
  • Determine the priority of the various creditors who may be entitled to some of the decedent’s property, and
  • Provide a method for payment and distribution of the decedent’s property to the creditors as quickly as is possible


The Minnesota Uniform Probate Code can be found in Minnesota Statutes 524.1, et. seq.  There are other places in Minnesota law where probate information can be found – but that statute hold the main body of probate law.

Minnesota rules of probate court can also be found at the Minnesota Judicial Branch website.  The rules of probate court can change from court to court and a qualified probate attorney should be consulted about the particular rules in Dakota County.  The probate rules and procedures in Dakota County, Minnesota can be very difference from the court rules and/or procedure in counties like Hennepin or Ramsey.


The question of whether an estate needs to be probated in Dakota County can be a difficult one to answer.  The simple answer to the questions lies in the value of the estate.  If the estate is valued at under $50,000, then the estate will likely not need to be probated.  Instead, the remaining estate assets can be transferred by a small estate affidavit.

If the estate is valued at over $50,000, then it will likely need to be probated in Dakota County.  There are some exceptions to this rule, but they can be difficult to follow and a probate attorney should be consulted.

There are different forms of probate; including:  “informal probate” and “formal probate”.  There are also such things as “supervised” and “unsupervised” administrations.  When each kind of probate should be filed is complicated and, again, a probate lawyer should be consulted.  One very clear example of when a formal probate should be filed is when the debts of the estate exceed the assets.  In this instance, a court should be involved to supervise and approve the decisions of the personal representative.


The length of time a probate can take varies.  We apologize, but that truly is the correct answer.  As a general rule of thumb, the larger the estate, the longer it may take.  An estate with a home, bank accounts, and a few retirement account should be relatively easy to liquidate in an expedited fashion.  A probate estate with millions of dollars, multiple parcels of real estate, and many debts will take much longer to administer.

One thing to keep in mind is that notice of the deceased person’s estate must be published in a newspaper when the estate starts.  Then, from the date of publication, creditors will have 4 months to make claims against the estate.  Therefore, a probate estate in Dakota County will not be closed before 4 to 5 months have passed.


The cost of a probate administration in Dakota County can vary.  One thing is for certain, the court has a schedule of fees that will be required to be paid before any estate administration can proceed.  In Dakota County, the cost of the initial probate petition is $322.00.  The newspaper will also charge a fee of anywhere from $150 to $200 in Dakota County.

Attorney fees for a Dakota County probate will vary depending on the complexity of the case.  A summary administration will be less expensive.  A supervised, formal administration will be more expensive.  Minnesota does not have a statutory basis to determine attorney fees and other administrative fees in an estate.


Experienced, Approachable Probate Lawyers

Flanders Law Firm LLC has years of experience working with clients from all walks of life.  The firm takes pride in helping normal people navigate the complicated probate process.  Joseph M. Flanders is licensed to practice probate law in Minnesota, North Dakota, and Indiana.  You can be assured that the firm will have your best interest in mind.

The firm offers experience, practicability, and the attention to detail that your case deserves.   The firm’s probate lawyers pride themselves on being easy-going and not taking themselves too seriously.  The most important thing is the client’s case and achieving a positive result.

At Flanders Law Firm, you will find honest and diligent lawyers who can help you with:

  • Probate and trust administration
  • Formal probates
  • Informal Probates
  • Summary Administrations
  • Intestate versus Testate Proceedings
  • Letters Testamentary and Letters of General Administration
  • Personal Representative Duties and Fees
  • Estate Inventory and Final Accounting
  • Sale of real estate
  • Funeral Expenses and claim litigation
  • Liens on the estate
  • Medical Assistance claims against the estate
  • Probate Asset Location and Identification
  • Identification of creditors of the estate
  • Creditor claims and debts of the estate
  • Will Contests (Undue Influence)
  • Lost Wills


Joseph M. Flanders

Licensed to practice law in Minnesota, North Dakota, Indiana


The above information is to be used for reference purposes only.  The firm provides information to readers but this site contains only general information and is not legal advice.  If you have further questions, you should contact the firm to discuss your particular case and issues.

More information on Dakota County, MN Probate can be found at:

Dakota County Probate Court

District Court

Judicial Center

1560 Highway 55

Hastings, MN 55033

(651) 438-8100


For further information or advice on your particular Minnesota probate case, contact law firm at 612-424-0398