In Minnesota, the probate process can be long and expensive. Since probate is a public court process, people who wish to maintain their family’s financial privacy may also want to avoid probate. There are a few ways to avoid probate so that assets are distributed more quickly and privately.
Many states, including Minnesota, have a simplified probate process that is available for smaller estates. The simplified process is less expensive and faster, but it is only available for estates that are worth less than a specified dollar amount. Assets that pass outside of probate are not included in the estate’s value when determining whether the informal probate process is available.
People who have assets that include transfer-on-death titles or deeds will not have to have those assets go through probate. Similarly, retirement accounts and life insurance policies with named beneficiaries do not go through the probate process. Jointly owned real estate with the right of survivorship will also directly transfer to the joint owner without being probated. For assets that cannot avoid probate and estates with substantial assets, living trusts are another way to avoid the probate process while maintaining the family’s privacy. Assets that are placed in living trusts will be distributed to the trust beneficiaries after the death of the grantor as called for under the trusts’ provisions.
Avoiding probate can help to save time and money while protecting privacy. Careful estate planning can allow people to make certain that their loved ones will be able to avoid going through the probate process. People who are planning their estates may benefit from consulting with experienced estate planning lawyers. The attorneys may help their clients to identify the probate alternatives that might work best for them and can help to set up living trusts so that their clients’ beneficiaries will receive their distributions much faster.