Navigating Probate in Minnesota: A Guide to Starting the Process

Probate can be a daunting process, especially if you’re navigating it for the first time. In Minnesota, like in many other states, probate is the legal process through which a deceased person’s estate is settled. Whether you’re an executor, a family member, or a beneficiary, understanding the steps involved in starting probate in Minnesota can help ease the process during a challenging time.

Understanding Probate in Minnesota

Probate laws can vary from state to state, so it’s essential to familiarize yourself with Minnesota’s specific regulations. In Minnesota, probate is primarily governed by the Minnesota Probate Code, found in Chapters 524 to 525 of the Minnesota Statutes.

Probate is typically required when a person dies owning assets solely in their name. It involves validating the deceased person’s will, identifying and inventorying their assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to beneficiaries.

Steps to Initiate Probate in Minnesota

1. Determine if Probate is Necessary:

Not all estates require probate in Minnesota. If the deceased person’s assets were held jointly with a right of survivorship or designated beneficiaries (such as in life insurance policies or retirement accounts), those assets can pass directly to the surviving joint owners or beneficiaries without going through probate. Additionally, assets held in a living trust may also bypass probate.

2. Petition the Probate Court:

If probate is necessary, the first step is to file a petition with the probate court in the county where the deceased person lived. You’ll need to submit the original will, if there is one, along with the death certificate and a list of known heirs.

3. Appointment of Personal Representative:

The court will appoint a personal representative (executor or administrator) to oversee the probate process. If the deceased person left a will, the court will typically appoint the person named as executor in the will, provided they meet the legal requirements. If there is no will, the court will appoint an administrator, usually a close family member.

4. Notice to Creditors and Beneficiaries:

The personal representative must notify creditors of the probate proceedings by publishing a notice in a local newspaper and sending individual notices to known creditors. Creditors have a limited time to file claims against the estate.

5. Inventory Assets and Pay Debts:

The personal representative is responsible for identifying and inventorying the deceased person’s assets, which may include real estate, bank accounts, investments, personal property, and more. They must also pay valid debts and taxes owed by the estate.

6. Distribute Remaining Assets:

Once debts and taxes are paid, the remaining assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will or Minnesota’s intestacy laws if there is no will.


Starting probate in Minnesota involves several steps, from petitioning the probate court to distributing assets to beneficiaries. While the process can be complex, understanding the requirements and seeking guidance from legal professionals can help ensure a smooth administration of the estate. By following the necessary procedures and complying with Minnesota’s probate laws, you can efficiently settle the affairs of your loved one’s estate.

Contact Joseph M. Flanders of Flanders Law Firm LLC, a Minnesota probate lawyer, to discuss your case at 612-424-0398.  Always a free consultation.


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