Wisconsin | Minnesota | Illinois | California 414-253-8500

Will Probate Lawyer in Minnesota: Navigating Legal Waters


Dealing with the intricacies of probate law in Minnesota can be a complex and emotional journey, especially after the loss of a loved one. Whether you are planning ahead or currently navigating the probate process, understanding your legal options and obligations is crucial. At Heritage Law Office, our team of experienced attorneys is here to guide you through every step. Contact us by either using the online form or calling us directly at 612-204-2300 to learn more about how we can assist you with your probate needs.

Understanding Probate in Minnesota

Understanding Probate in Minnesota

Probate is the legal process by which a deceased person's will is validated, and their estate is administered according to their wishes, or under state law if there is no will. The process involves several steps that can vary depending on the specifics of the deceased's estate and the presence of a valid will.

Common Probate Terms and Their Definitions

Term Definition


The person who has died and whose estate is being probated.


All assets owned by the decedent at the time of their death, including property, cars, and stocks.

Executor/Personal Representative

The individual appointed to manage the estate through the probate process, as dictated by the will.


A person entitled to inherit from the decedent under state law if there is no will.


A person designated in a will or a trust to receive assets from the decedent's estate.


A legal document in which a person specifies the method to be applied in the management and distribution of their estate after their death.


A fiduciary relationship in which one party, known as a trustor, gives another party, the trustee, the right to hold title to property or assets for the benefit of a third party, the beneficiary.

What is Probate?

Probate serves multiple functions:

  • Validating the Will: Ensuring the will is legally valid and reflects the deceased's intentions.
  • Identifying Assets: Gathering and appraising all assets of the deceased.
  • Paying Debts and Taxes: Settling any outstanding debts and taxes owed by the estate.
  • Distributing the Remaining Assets: Allocating what remains to the rightful beneficiaries.

When is Probate Necessary?

Probate in Minnesota is generally necessary when the deceased owned assets solely in their name or had a will that needs formal validation. However, not all assets must go through probate. Those that can bypass the process include:

  • Jointly Owned Property: Assets owned jointly typically transfer directly to the surviving owner.
  • Designated Beneficiary Accounts: Such as life insurance or retirement accounts.
  • Trust Assets: Property held in a trust is distributed according to the terms of the trust, avoiding probate.

For assets that require probate, Minnesota offers both formal and informal processes, which can be chosen based on the complexity and specific needs of the estate.

Overview of Probate Processes in Minnesota

Process Description Applicable Situations

Informal Probate

A simpler, administrative process handled by a probate registrar without a judge.

Used when there are no disputes and the estate is straightforward.

Formal Probate

Involves court hearings and is overseen by a judge.

Necessary when disputes exist or when a will's validity is questioned.

Special Administration

A short-term form of probate for specific purposes, not a full administration of the estate.

Applicable in emergencies or when immediate action is required.

Summary Administration

Streamlined process for small estates, bypassing many standard probate procedures.

Used when estate value is below a certain threshold (e.g., $75,000).

Ancillary Probate

Required for out-of-state residents who own property in Minnesota.

Pertains to property in Minnesota, but decedent lived elsewhere.

The Role of a Will Probate Lawyer

The Role of a Will Probate Lawyer

A will probate lawyer plays a pivotal role in the probate process, offering guidance and support in several key areas:

Legal Guidance and Representation

  • Interpreting the Will: Lawyers help interpret the language of the will and other legal documents, ensuring that the decedent's wishes are honored.
  • Navigating Probate Court: Legal professionals manage the necessary paperwork and court appearances involved in the probate process.
  • Resolving Disputes: Attorneys act as mediators in disputes over the will or estate between beneficiaries.

Ensuring Compliance

  • Adhering to Deadlines: Probate lawyers ensure all filings are completed on time.
  • Paying Debts and Taxes: They assist in settling debts and preparing final tax returns for the estate.

Asset Distribution

  • Asset Management: Lawyers oversee the inventory and valuation of estate assets.
  • Distribution of Assets: They ensure assets are distributed according to the will or state law if no will exists.

Handling the complexities of probate requires not only a deep understanding of the law but also an experienced hand to guide you through the process efficiently and compassionately.

Understanding the Costs of Probate in Minnesota

Understanding the Costs of Probate in Minnesota

The costs associated with probate can vary significantly based on the complexity of the estate and the duration of the process. Typical expenses include:

Court Fees

  • Filing Fees: Costs associated with filing the necessary paperwork to begin the probate process.
  • Miscellaneous Fees: Other potential costs during probate might include fees for certified copies of documents, publication fees for legal notices, and more.

Attorney's Fees

  • Hourly Rates vs. Flat Fees: Some probate lawyers charge by the hour, while others may offer a flat rate for their services.
  • Retainer Fees: Initial upfront payments might be required to engage the services of the lawyer.

Additional Costs

  • Appraisal Fees: Professional appraisal may be necessary for certain estate assets.
  • Tax Preparation Fees: Preparing final state and federal tax returns for the deceased can incur costs.

Being prepared for these costs and understanding their breakdown is crucial in managing the estate's finances effectively during the probate process.

Contact a Will Probate Lawyer in Minnesota

Contact a Will Probate Lawyer in Minnesota

Navigating the probate process can be daunting, especially during a time of grief. At Heritage Law Office, our knowledgeable team is dedicated to providing compassionate and efficient legal services to help you manage your loved one's estate. Whether you need guidance on administering a will, resolving estate disputes, or simply understanding your legal obligations, we are here to assist.

Contact us today by either using the online form or by calling us directly at 612-204-2300 to discuss how we can help you with your probate needs in Minnesota. Our team is ready to provide the support you need to ensure a smooth and compliant probate process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is probate and why is it necessary in Minnesota?

Probate is a legal process that occurs after someone dies. It includes proving in court that a deceased person's will is valid, identifying and inventorying the deceased's property, having the property appraised, paying debts and taxes, and finally distributing the remaining property as the will (or state law, if there's no will) directs. In Minnesota, probate is necessary to legally transfer ownership of the deceased's assets to their beneficiaries, unless the estate qualifies for a simpler transfer process.

2. How long does the probate process usually take in Minnesota?

The duration of the probate process in Minnesota can vary significantly depending on the complexity of the estate and the clarity of the deceased person's will. Typically, probate can take anywhere from six months to over a year. If there are disputes, or if the will is contested, the process may take longer.

3. Are there ways to avoid probate in Minnesota?

Yes, there are several strategies to avoid probate in Minnesota. These include establishing a living trust, designating beneficiaries on life insurance and retirement accounts, owning property jointly, and making use of transfer-on-death (TOD) or payable-on-death (POD) designations for vehicles and bank accounts. Each of these options allows property to pass to the beneficiary directly without the need for probate.

4. What types of assets typically go through probate in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, assets that are owned solely in the deceased's name without any designated beneficiary must typically go through probate. This includes personal property, real estate, and any other assets that do not have joint ownership with right of survivorship or are not designated as transfer-on-death or payable-on-death.

5. Can you contest a will during the probate process in Minnesota?

Yes, in Minnesota, it is possible to contest a will during the probate process. Grounds for contesting a will include the will being improperly executed, the decedent lacking mental capacity at the time the will was created, the presence of undue influence or coercion, or the will being a forgery. Contesting a will can be a complex legal matter, and it is advisable to consult with an experienced probate lawyer if you believe there is a valid reason to challenge a will.

Contact Us Today

For a comprehensive plan that will meet your needs or the needs of a loved one, contact us today. Located in Downtown Milwaukee, we serve Milwaukee County, surrounding communities, and to clients across Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and California.