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Is There a Benefit to Small Estate Administration in Minnesota?

— February 6, 2023

If property transfer occurs through joint property, identification of beneficiaries in life insurance, bank, and retirements accounts, or through a trust, the assets can then transfer directly to the heirs. 

Estate planning is a key step to determine the best outcomes for an individual’s personal and real property upon their death.  To effectively draft comprehensive focused documents, it is important to understand the probate laws that will be in place regarding the will and associated estate planning paperwork.  Depending on what probate assets make up a decedent’s Minnesota estate, an executor or administrator may be able to settle the estate without formal probate. Probate is the process of transferring property and ownership after someone has died. Whether an estate must be probated depends on how the decedent’s property is titled when they die, and if they die with or without a will in place.  Some property may not be part of the probate estate because it passes directly to another person by law. 

Small estates

Minnesota provides a procedure for handling small estates and the benefits may include reduced cost and time for distributing the estate assets.  An heir to an estate can file a small estate affidavit along with a death certificate if the estate is worth $75,000 or less in accordance with Minnesota law and avoid probate action if it is approved.  This will allow the filing person to access a person’s bank accounts, safety deposit boxes, stocks, bonds, and other assets belonging to the estate.  Requirements of small estate exemptions include:

  • The total value of the estate must be less than $75,000,
  • No other authority can be considering a petition for the appointment of a personal representative,
  • The person attempting to collect the deceased’s property must complete an affidavit certifying that they are legally entitled to the property.

When a valid will is in place, the named personal representative can sign a certification stating that an individual is entitled to the property listed in the affidavit to support a claim for property.  The negative side to small estate administration is that it may lend itself to improper distribution of assets, honest mistakes, and the possibility that the personal representative will distribute property to heirs before paying valid claims against the estate.  

Talk to a Minneapolis estate planning lawyer about small estate administration pros and cons and the differences between personal and real property toward aggregate value of assets.

  • Real property means land or interests in land such as a house, rental property, easement, mineral rights, or timber not harvested by date of death.
  • Personal property means any asset that is not real property such as money, intellectual property, material assets, bank accounts, insurance and investment accounts, and stocks and bonds for example.

If property transfer occurs through joint property, identification of beneficiaries in life insurance, bank, and retirements accounts, or through a trust, the assets can then transfer directly to the heirs.

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Importance of estate planning

Estate planning is important regardless of wealth, age, and life circumstances.  A Minnesota estate planning lawyer will review documents when estate planning is initiated to ascertain any loopholes that individuals would be able to contest when a will goes to probate. The resolution of probated estates can be time-consuming and dragged out, depending upon the nature of the assets left to distribute requiring the service of an estate planning lawyer. 

Tax concerns

A tax lawyer will be able to apprise beneficiaries of the inheritance tax liabilities associated with any type of asset they receive during estate settlements. Experienced lawyers will guide interested parties in accordance with Oregon probate and federal tax laws.  


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