I really don’t know how probate got such a bad reputation, but in my experience it isn’t that bad. As other contributors to Epilawg have noted (see for example: Estate Planning Myth #6: I Must Avoid Probate), Probate can be a pretty painless process. Closing an Informal Probate illustrates that point perfectly. In 3 easy steps, an estate administered informally can be closed with only a few filings and no court appearances.
Step 1: Wait 4 months
Minnesota law requires four months to pass from the date of appointment of your Personal Representative or the date you published Notice to Creditors, whichever is later, before an informal probate can be closed.
Pretty easy, right?
Step 2: Prepare a Statement to Close
Prepare a Statement to Close stating the Personal Representative has:
- Published notice to creditors at least 4 months prior to the date of this statement. (If you did Step 1, this takes care of itself!)
- Fully administered the estate by paying and settling all claims, expenses of the estate, and other taxes, except as otherwise listed in the statement (if there are unsettled claim or expenses, then they should be listed on the statement)
- Inventoried and distributed the assets of the estate to the persons entitled to receive them, and
- Sent a copy of the statement to all distributees and all unpaid creditors or claimants of whom the Personal Representative is aware, and furnished a full account of the administration, in writing, to the distributees whose interests are affected.
The Personal Representative must sign this statement in front of a notary and you’re on to Step 3.
Step 3: Mail & File the Statement to Close
Mail the Statement to Close and a Copy of the Final Account (which you made for Step 2, statement 4) to the distributees. Also mail a copy of the Statement to Close to any unpaid claimants. The statute only requires you to file the Statement to Close with the Probate Court, but many attorneys (including yours truly) will also file a copy of the Final Account and an Affidavit of Mailing showing these copies have been sent to prove you complied with the Notice requirements.
After filing the statement, you’re done! Your informal probate is closed.
Probate is Painless.
PS: If you’re feeling ambitious, have the distributees sign receipts verifying they received their share of the estate, and file those with the Probate Court. While it isn’t required, it is a nice way to ensure everyone involved knows the assets have been distributed and the estate is wrapped up.