How long does probate takeHow long does probate take?  The answer?   it depends.

Although the answer is not simple, most probates take between six months to a year.   That is the easy answer.  The more accurate answer if that there are exceptions and every case is different.

It depends on how complex the estate is.  If the estate is more complex, the process will take longer.  If the estate is less complex, the probate process will be shorter.

Complex Probate Issues

  • On-going Businesses

One example of a complex probate issue is dealing with business assets. If a deceased person owned a business, it can be difficult for the surviving spouse or heirs to wrap-up that business.  This is because the business may have contracts to resolve or outstanding debts to pay.  The business may have employee issues.  The business may have ongoing business problems.   We have seen business issues last longer than one year.  Winding-up businesses lengthens the amount of time a probate will take.

  • Real Estate Problems

Another example of estate complexity is dealing with real estate.   There are many different kinds of real estate and the real estate is sometimes in another state or even another country.  Real estate or “real property” often has its own set of complex issues.  Problems can include zoning issues or land use issues such as easements.

Rental property has its own set of problems.  This is because there may be an ongoing lease with a renter.  Renters may have a lease for a year or more.  Obviously, the personal representative is going to have to deal with this issue.  It takes time.  Although the personal representative may want to sell the property, the renter may want to stay in it.  Decisions will need to be made about whether to renew the lease or sell the property.

  • Taxation issues

If we continue on the example of a renter in the deceased person’s real estate, we know that the rent will be paid to the estate.  This “income” for the estate is taxed.

Much like a personal income tax return, the estate may need to file an estate tax return.  Estate tax is different than the personal income tax of the deceased person.  The tax rate is different.  The deadlines for filing are different.  Knowing these differences is important.  Having an attorney guide you through the differences is advisable.  It will save the estate time and money.

  • Disputes between heirs

Another example of things that can lengthen the Minnesota probate process are disputes between heirs.  Disputes can lead to probate litigation.   This often means fighting in court or meeting with a mediator.

Disputes between heirs can last a very long time.  This is especially true if there are multiple court hearings, discovery deadlines, and other related “litigation” issues.  Our law office has seen probate litigation last words five years or more.

  • Complex Estate Debts

Finally, some estates may have significant debt.  The personal representative will have to deal it.

One example of a complex probate debt issue is medical assistance.  If a person was receiving medical assistance before they died, the state of Minnesota has automatic lien rights against the deceased person’s estate.  That lien will also go on the person’s home or real estate.

Things become even more completed when there are medical assistance liens and the personal representative is trying to sell the a home.  Dealing with debt issues like medical assistance can take long time.  During this time, the personal representative will still administer other issues in the estate.   A competent Minnesota probate lawyer should be consulted for any questions relating to medical assistance issues and payment of complex estate debt.

A Typical Probate Timeline

As stated above, a typical Minnesota probate may take six months to a year.  The process begins by petitioning the proper county court to probate a deceased person’s Will.  Or, if a person did not have a Will, an “intestate” petition can be filed with the court.

Once a personal representative is identified (in a Will or otherwise), that person will petition the proper County District Court.  The petition is a request that a personal representative be appointed by the court, over the estate.

Once the petition is received, the court will schedule a hearing.  The personal representative and their lawyer will send a legal notice to all interested parties.  The lawyer will also publish notice of the court hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the deceased person lived.

This process may take two to three months to complete.   Once a person is appointed, they need to obtain certified court documents called Letters Testamentary or Letters of General Administration.   These certified “letters” are need to show financial institutions that the personal representative now has legal authority to act on behalf of the deceased person’s estate.  They are also need to sell real estate.

Once a personal representative has been appointed, if there is any real estate, that property will either need to be sold or transferred to the proper person or persons, pursuant to the court order. This process is much like closing on a home. Many people who have bought and sold homes are familiar with the process to sell a home.  This can include:  hiring a realtor, fixing up the home for sale, mowing the lawn, cleaning the home out, and then closing on the home.  This process can take two to four months depending on what needs to be done in the estate.

Additionally, the personal representative will use the certified court documents to access the deceased person’s bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, pension accounts, and all other financial accounts. The process of working with the financial companies can take a long time.

Once all of the financial assets are dealt with, the personal representative must deal with the estate debts, if any.

Once all of the above issues have been completed, the personal representative must file an estate Inventory within six months of the their appointment.  Additionally, in many cases, a Final Accounting of the estate assets, debts, and tax returns will be prepared by the personal representative.

Finally, when all of the above is completed, estate tax returns will filed.   Once the tax returns have been filed, there may be refunds or tax owed to the IRS or Minnesota Department of Revenue.  This process will take time.  Ultimately, all of the above will lead to distributions (money) being paid from the estate to the heirs.

Minnesota Probate Lawyers

The attorneys at Flanders Law Firm LLC would be happy to discuss how long your probate might take.  Having good legal counsel will almost certainly speed up the process.  We are happy to help you navigate the probate process from start to finish.

Contact the law firm today for a free initial consultation at 612-424-0398.



Minnesota probate code