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					   To Help You Get a Better Understanding
  of What Probate Is and What Role it Plays
   in Estate Planning, Let’s Take a Look at
   Some of Probate’s General Principles



UNDERSTANDING
PROBATE IN MINNESOTA




          GERMAN LAW GROUP
 MINNESOTA & NORTH DAKOTA ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEYS
     When new clients come into an estate planning attorney’s office, they can easily
     be overwhelmed by many of the terms and concepts surrounding the topic. The
     reality is that most people don’t give the state planning much thought before
     they begin the process, and they certainly don’t have much experience with the
     legal realities surrounding the issues involved.

     One of the main topics people are most unfamiliar with is the area of probate.
     Like other aspects of the law, probate law is state specific. Every state has its
     own collections of probate laws that are, though similar, slightly different.
     However, there are some general principles involved regardless of the state in
     which you live. To help you get a better understanding of what probate is and
     what role it plays in estate planning; let’s take a look at some of those general
     principles.

     DEATH AND THE LAW

     If you want to be a big hit at social
     events, start talking about death
     and its legal realities whenever
     possible. The fact is death is a
     topic most people avoid talking
     about in polite company. When
     they do talk about it, it’s usually
     only with close friends, clergy, and
     family members. Unfortunately, while you will probably feel more comfortable
     talking about this sensitive subject with those you know best, those people
     usually don’t know much about the law.




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     The law deals with the practical realities that arise out of a person’s death
     through a process known as probate. Probate is designed to address all the
     unanswered questions left behind after a person dies. For example, who will
     inherit your property? Are there any unpaid debts that you still owe? If so, who
     will pay for them, and with what money? Who will be responsible for managing
     the property left behind by a deceased person?

     Probate answers all these questions. Because dying happens to everyone, and
     people die every day, every state has created specific courts designed to deal
     with these types of questions. These are called probate courts. The probate
     courts are responsible for governing the process that determines what happens
     to a person’s interests after he or she dies, and making sure that process
     complies with the probate laws the state has adopted.

     THE PROBATE PROCESS

     So, to get a better understanding of how this process works, let’s take a look at
                                                    a common example. Let’s say a
                                                    person dies leaving behind a home,
                                                    some investments, some personal
                                                    property, as well as a handful of
                                                    debts. Once that person dies, a
                                                    friend or representative will have to
                                                    go to a probate court and ask the
                                                    court to open a new case. The
                                                    representative does this by filing
     what’s called a petition. A petition is simply a legal document that asks the




www.GermanLawGroup.com                Understanding Probate in Minnesota
                                                                                            3
     probate court to open a new case and determine what should happen to the
     deceased person’s property and other interests.

     Once the court opens a case, it will then appoint someone who’ll be responsible
     for managing the property owned by the deceased person. This person is called
     the personal representative, but is also sometimes referred to as either the
     executor or the estate administrator. The property left behind by the deceased
     person is collectively known as the estate.

     So, once the court has appointed the personal representative, the representative
     will get to work determining what should happen to the estate. There are several
     steps involved in this process. For example, the representative will have to take
     an inventory of all estate property. He or she will also have to file a notice with
     any potential creditors and allow them to file claims if they believe the deceased
     person, called a decedent, owed them money.

     Next, the personal representative will have to determine if the creditor claims are
     valid. If so, he or she will have to use estate money to begin paying those claims
     back.

     All of this is done in accordance with state probate codes. The probate code is a
     collection of laws that outline what the personal representative has to do during
     this process. Though the court oversees each probate case, it is the personal
     representative’s responsibility to go about the day-to-day task of resolving the
     issues left behind after a person dies. This is commonly referred to as “settling”
     the estate.




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     LIVING PROBATE

     Though probate courts are primarily responsible
                                                               FREE PROBATE REPORT
     for dealing with the issues left behind after a
                                                             TAKING THE "PROBLEM" OUT OF
     person dies, they can also get involved in cases                 PROBATE
     involving someone who is still alive. These types
                                                            Now you can learn the basics of Probate
     of cases are, naturally, referred to as “living        and how it will affect your executor with
                                                           your free report Taking the Problem Out of
     probate.” In living probate cases, the question                         Probate.

     the probate court is asked to answer involves            With your free report you will learn:

     someone who is alive but who is not capable of            The facts about Probate Court
                                                           What property is protected from Probate
     making his or her own decisions.                        What will happen if you owe debts
                                                           What will happen if you owe estate taxes
                                                            How the process can be easier with an
     For example, let’s say you are involved in a                      estate attorney

     serious car accident. The accident leaves you
     comatose and unable to speak, communicate, or
     make any indication of what your desires and
     choices are. What happens to your property in
     this situation? Who will look after your children?
     Who make medical decisions for you and
     communicate with your doctors?

     All of these questions have to be answered, but
                                                              Taking the "Problem" Out of
     because you cannot communicate, you need                Probate is perhaps one of the
     someone else to answer them for you. This is            most comprehensive guides on
                                                           the probate process available and
     where the probate courts get involved. The court       you can get your copy absolutely
                                                                          free!
     will have to appoint representatives who will be
     responsible for managing your affairs. Depending        CLICK TO DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE
                                                                    REPORT TODAY!



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                                                                                                        5
     on your situation your representative could be your spouse, a close family
     member, or someone else the court deems appropriate.

     PROBATE OPTIONS

     If all of this sounds complicated, it very often is. Probate cases are notorious for
     the detailed procedures and rules involved. What’s important to know is that
     probate is quite often an optional process. People can make choices that will
     allow them to, in most situations, avoid probate either completely, or minimize it
     to a great extent. Not only can you choose representatives who will represent
     you if you are unable to represent yourself, you can also choose who will
     represent your estate during the probate process. You can even create tools that
     will allow almost all of your estate to avoid probate. If you’d like to know more
     about these options speak to an estate planning attorney for detailed advice.




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                                                                                            6
     About the Author
     Raymond J. German
                             As an attorney in Minnesota and North Dakota, Raymond
                             J. German provides a wide range of estate planning and
                             title services to his clients, with a primary focus on
                             helping them provide for the security of their loved ones,
                             reduce estate taxes and avoid or at least minimize the
                             costs and delays of probate, all with a well-crafted estate
                             plan. Mr. German defines the mission statement for
                             Raymond J. German, LTD. Law Firm as "Helping one
                             family at a time pass on values, beliefs and finances that
     can be shared for generations to come." Mr. German is well aware of the
     growing importance of estate planning and dedicates himself to informing the
     public of the need for careful attention to their specific situations. He is a
     frequent speaker on a variety of estate planning topics, regularly presenting
     educational seminars for the public as well as private groups.
     Raymond J. German approaches each challenge with not just solid expertise, but
     also remarkable enthusiasm and vigor. By constantly seeking simpler, better, and
     more effective ways of doing things, he continues to make a real difference in
     the lives of families and on the way estate planning is practiced by attorneys
     around the country.
                              German Law Group, PC
                             www.GermanLawGroup.com
                 GRAND FORKS                                    FERTILE
        2650 32nd Avenue South, Suite O           105 North Mill Street, P.O. Box 127
            Grand Forks, ND 58201                          Fertile, MN 56540
             Phone: (701) 738-0060                     Phone: (218) 945-6913
           Toll Free: (800) 774-7576                  Toll Free: (800) 774-7576
              Fax: (701) 738-0064                       Fax: (218) 945-6914




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