If someone has all of the proper estate planning documents in place, the administration of their estate tends to go fabulously.
If a person has will-based planning in place, then the estate might go through the probate process. While in Minnesota, probate isn’t too bad, it is still a court process and may have the accompanying frustrations. For instance, it may take longer than the family would ideally want, there will be upfront court fees and publication fees that the family may have to pay out of pocket, and there may be statutory waiting periods before property can be sold. Still, the process in Minnesota is usually quite smooth if the will has all the necessary components and is not disputed or contested. A good will acts like a guide through the probate process, and all the personal representative and the attorney would have to do is follow it from start to finish to administer an estate.
If a person has trust-based planning in place, the estate still needs to be administered even if it doesn’t go through probate. A good trust will also function like a guide through the administration process from start to finish, with the ultimate advantage that the entire thing can be done outside the court system. This means the administration is a private process that does not require court orders. It is carried out by the people who were selected by the person who has died. Moreover, it can be carried out immediately with no statutory waiting periods and the family can move at its own pace. In trust administration, the trustee – that is the person tasked with distributing the estate – can simply go ahead and distribute the estate’s assets as soon as the trust says it’s time. There are no artificial stops put in place by the court: rather, the trustee moves along in the manner laid out by the trust.
In these cases where all of the appropriate estate planning documents are in place before the person dies, things generally tend to go quite smoothly. This makes for a relatively stress-free process by which those people can distribute the estate according to the rules already laid out by the existing estate plan.
If you would like to ensure that your estate administration and distribution goes this smoothly, you should come see an experienced estate planning attorney who can help you put the documents in place to make it happen.
What Happens During The Administration Of An Estate If Someone Did Not Make The Proper Plans Or Did Not Have A Will In Place?
I have learned from personal experience and as an attorney that when a case comes across your desk that involves insufficient, incorrect, or absent estate planning, you should brace yourself for the difficulty that the estate administration might be difficult to handle.
Cases where people did not make the proper plans or leave a will in place are much more difficult because there’s no roadmap for the people administering the estate to follow. An estate without a will or a trust also automatically lands in the court system in a probate proceeding. This puts things on the court’s timeline rather than on the family’s timeline.
Following the court’s timeline and processes can make things extremely difficult for surviving relatives and heirs. It requires them to wait to sell any property, and the funds from the estate are not released until the process is complete, appropriate bonds are procured and orders from the court are issued. This means that often times family members have to come up with money of their own to pay for the probate process and all associated attorney fees, court costs and publications to be made, of which there are many.
Furthermore, without a will or a trust, the formal probate process gets even more expensive since a Court Order could be required for almost every single thing the family might want to do involving the estate. If there is at least some proper estate planning documentation, a personal representative, who is the one administering the estate, might only need one Court Order to cover all subsequent actions involving the estate. Without that documentation, you need to get the Court’s permission for everything individually, which is exceedingly time consuming and drives up the costs considerably.
In addition, estates with insufficient or absent planning documents often come out with unintended distributions. For instance, let’s say you’re a blended family and you intended for your children and stepchildren to have the exact same rights to inheritance. Unfortunately, the law and the rules of the court do not see it that way. When you die without sufficient estate planning documentation, you leave things up to those laws and rules of the court (often known as “statutes”). If the statute says your biological children have more of a right to your estate than your stepchildren, your stepchildren might not wind up getting anything. Even if your children decide to give your stepchildren a share, it can be a messy process involving tax consequences and other actions to carry that out.
There are also unintended consequences when a deceased loved one wanted a specific sort of distribution but didn’t put it down in an appropriate estate planning document. For instance, let’s say you wanted one child to get all the real property and the other child to get all other pieces of property and a third child to take the cash and accounts. Without documentation saying so, you might have all three kids fighting over one thing or demanding a perfectly equal distribution which could cause a piece of property or other asset to be sold. In addition to the fighting, this could cost extra court fees, attorney fees and precious time.
In general, not having the right estate planning in place makes things a lot more difficult and makes it much more likely that people will fight about various things like who is in charge of the estate and who gets what. This can become more expensive than was ever intended—not to mention acrimonious— and your children or your surviving beneficiaries are the ones who will have to pay the economic and emotional costs.
For more information on Estate Administration After Death In Minnesota, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (952) 225-5902 today.
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