When someone dies in Minnesota, all of their property and responsibilities transfer to their estate. Their estate will pay their taxes and settle their debts. The estate will own their property until it transfers to a creditor or beneficiary.
Therefore, the person who handles an estate’s administration and probate proceedings in Minnesota will have a lot of work ahead of them and also a lot of authority. Families may find themselves arguing amongst themselves about who should handle what aspects of the probate process when someone dies.
The personal representative of the estate should do everything
Typically, the individual who died will have an estate plan on record that designates an individual to serve as the personal representative of their estate. This individual, who some people may refer to as an executor, has an obligation to fulfill someone’s last obligations and uphold their final wishes as outlined in their estate plan.
Only the personal representative of the estate can initiate or manage probate proceedings. They are also the only party empowered to communicate with creditors and distribute assets to beneficiaries on behalf of the estate. Other family members could help with some of the stages in the process, such as cleaning someone’s home and preparing for an estate sale, but they generally will not be able to handle the official communications or financial matters of the decedent.
Having one person manage everything sometimes leads to conflict
Unfortunately, the practice of having a personal representative take care of all of the obligations of an estate can lead to certain issues. If the representative fails to take the right steps, their mismanagement could cost beneficiaries thousands. One person having total authority over the inheritance of others could lead to resentment and damage to family relationships. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance that those serving as personal representatives ensure they follow the instructions provided by the testator and state law to the best of their ability.
Doing so effectively often requires legal guidance. An attorney representing the personal representative of the estate can handle much of the process on their behalf, from appearing and probate court in some cases to filing certain paperwork. Therefore, seeking legal guidance to make better sense of the obligations involved in probate administration – and to potentially save a great deal of time and money – can benefit those who have recently lost a loved one.