Under Minnesota Law, the family of the deceased Loved One has three years after the death to file a probate proceeding in district court.
There are a number of circumstances when you may have not gotten around to starting the probate.
Sometimes the family may have used the real estate and other assets without doing a probate. For example, maybe brothers or sisters have been living in the home but later you want to sell it or mortgage it. You can’t do those things if the home is still in the name of the deceased family member.
Another situation may be that four years later you find that the deceased family member owned real estate or other assets you didn’t know about when they died.
Occasionally a family will discover that a relative that they had lost touch with who owned property has died more than three years ago
In any of these cases, you can still take action to get titles transferred to the heirs or to persons who are supposed to get the property under a will.
(It is important to know that if there never was a probate, the beneficiaries of the will don’t lose their inheritances just because a probate was never filed.)
The Minnesota Legislature has provided a solution for the “past-due probate” situation. It is done with a procedure called a “Petition for a Decree of Descent”.
The Decree can get the overlooked assets transferred into the name or names of the people who are supposed to receive them.
The process is both different and somewhat similar to the procedures if a probate had been done within the three years.
Like probate, all the heirs and beneficiaries must be notified of the proceedings even if they are not entitled to get any proceeds from the decedent’s estate.
Moreover, if one or more of the heirs or beneficiaries died after the asset-owner, the Decree must deal with their estates as well.
Since it is important that all the legal steps are done correctly, it is advisable to hire an attorney experienced in probate proceedings to handle the legal work.