How Probate Laws Work in Minnesota

When you lose a loved one, you go through a grieving process that can take months or longer. However, you can’t forget about other responsibilities during this time for the decedent’s estate. You must deal with their assets and debts to get everything handled in a timely manner.

The process for distributing an estate is a legal one known as probate. The court oversees this process in some aspect based on whether it is formal or informal probate. It’s important to understand how probate works and what you can expect to happen.

Is Probate Required in Minnesota?

In most situations, probate is necessary as based on the Minnesota Probate Code. The court ensures that the estate is handled according to the wishes of the decedent as outlined in their will. If no will exists, it must be managed as directed by the state law. In some cases, a simplified version of probate is acceptable. In other cases, you may not need to go through probate at all.

How Do You Avoid Probate in Minnesota?

It is possible to keep an estate out of probate in Minnesota. The best way to accomplish this is by creating a revocable living trust where all assets are placed. Any assets not included in the trust will still need to go through probate. Another option is to list beneficiaries for all assets, such as with retirement accounts, life insurance policies and other accounts.

Can an Executor of an Estate in Minnesota by Compensated?

Yes, an executor is entitled to compensation for the time they spend working on the estate as well as any expenses they have. This may include travel expenses or payments made to protect or maintain the asset.

How Much Does an Executor in Minnesota Get Paid?

The Minnesota Statutes allow for the executor to be paid for their duties with an estate as listed in Section 3-721. No specific amount is listed, but it does state that the compensation must be reasonable. This will be determined by the court as compared to other similar estates and based on how much work was needed. The statutes also state that if they receive excessive compensation from the estate, they may be ordered to refund the extra amount. Another person may challenge their amount of compensation but final determination belongs to the court.

How Long Does Probate in Minnesota Take?

Probate generally takes at least six months if the estate is small and the process simple. Just allowing for creditors to file claims, it will take a minimum of six months, but often much longer. Formal probate will take more time because the executor must get approval for everything that is done from the court, which will extend the time for the tasks to be completed with the estate. For larger estates or those with complicated situations, probate can last well over a year. If the will is contested or other problems arise, it may be several years before probate can be closed.

Do All Estates Have to Go Through Probate in Minnesota?

Most estates will need to go through probate, but not all. If an estate is included in a living trust, the assets automatically go to the listed beneficiary. Even if the estate must go through probate, there are two options: informal and formal. With informal probate, the administrator acts for the estate with minimal supervision from the court. Formal probate requires the court to oversee most aspects of the process. In this situation, the executor would provide verification of everything and ask for permission before acting. For instance, they would have to get approval before they could sell any assets to pay off debts.

Does a Will Have to Be Probated in Minnesota?

A will must be filed with the court after a person’s death. This step is required even if the estate doesn’t have to be probated or if the person had no assets. The court will validate the will before the assets can be distributed.

Settling an Estate in Minnesota

Minnesota is much like other states when it comes to the probate process. However, it has unique deadlines and other details that are specific to the state. As a person involved with the estate, it is important that you know how this process works.

How Long Do You Have to File Probate After a Death in Minnesota?

Minnesota Probate Code requires that probate be opened on an estate within three years of the person’s death. There are exceptions in certain situations, but it may require assistance from an attorney.

Probate Court in Minnesota

Each district in Minnesota has its own court, which is where probate is handled. There are ten districts in the state. You can find out which district your county is in by visiting the Minnesota Judicial Branch website Minnesota Judicial Branch – FindCourts (

Probate Code in Minnesota

Minnesota uses the Uniform Probate Code, which simplifies the probate process. This code can be found in the Minnesota Statutes Chapter 524 and 525 Ch. 524 MN Statutes.