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The probate process can be a confusing but necessary one. It is the process in which an estate is opened and the business regarding the state is conducted by the executor or “personal representative” of that estate. Bills are paid, money owed to the estate is collected, and the assets are distributed accordingly once all of the debts are paid and any money is collected.

Because this process can be confusing and rather overwhelming, it is important to enlist the help of an experienced Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin probate lawyer to help with the administration of the estate. You can receive the guidance that you need as you need it so the process will move as smoothly for you as possible.

Comprehensive Legal Advice Through Probate

Probate can be a difficult process for you to face on your own. Once the debts are paid from the estate, the remaining property is divided among the beneficiaries. If a will was not left, the heirs to the estate are determined based on the Uniform Probate Code and/or the laws of intestate succession. In other words, the lack of a will can cause the law to kick in and any wishes that the decedent had for their assets may not be carried out the way that they wanted. The personal representative has to distribute the assets according to the law. Your probate lawyer can give you the legal advice and guidance that you need to carry out your duties throughout the probate process.

There are a number of factors that determine whether or not a matter needs to be probated, such as the type of property, the nature of ownership, and if the estate has a worth of $50,000 or more. Property subject to “joint tenancy” or property that was transferred into a trust is not usually subject to probate.

Helping You Understand Your Duties

When you serve as a personal representative, it is very important that you understand your duties. The following are tasks that may need to be performed:

  • Collecting income from the property in the estate
  • Paying all claims, debts, and the expenses of administering the estate
  • Filing all necessary income tax returns, estate tax returns, and reports
  • Distributing, preserving, and settling the estate in accordance with the will of the decedent, the laws of intestate succession, or the Uniform Probate Code

Probate is not necessary if the decedent’s estate is worth less than $50,000. Heirs can typically collect on the property that is due to them through an affidavit, which means the probate process is not necessary. You can consult with your Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin probate lawyer regarding affidavits so you can collect any property that you are the beneficiary of through a will or through intestate succession.

Non-Probate Transfers

Life Insurance, Transfer on Death Deeds. Trusts. Life Estates. Beneficiary Designations. All of these tools can be utilized to help transfer property outside of the probate process. Probate can be costly and time consuming.  Non-probate transfers tend to be much quick and painless.  Setting up the correct non-probate tools before one passes away can be immensely helpful to your loved ones after you have passed away. Our office often times will consult with financial planners and insurance agents to help select the best products for the situation of our clients.

We also help our clients to administer non-probate assets.  It can be the completion of forms, ordering of death certificates, and correspondence with the institutions holding the non-probate property belonging to the decedent. You name it and we can do it. Call us today to see how we can help you use or administer non-probate assets.

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