When you lose someone close to you, the aftermath can be intimidating. You not only have grief to deal with but also the logistical and financial matters that require resolution after someone passes away. In Minnesota, most estates go through the probate process. The need for probate in the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” is determined not by whether the deceased individual left a will but by the kind of assets they owned—and how much they are worth.

When is probate necessary?

The size of the estate determines the need for probate. If at their time of death, your loved one did not own real estate and owned less than $75,000 in property, probate is unnecessary. You can settle and distribute their estate without the court’s involvement. It is, however, still a good idea to work with a lawyer to ensure that the transfer of property is legal and permanent. The other scenario in which probate may be necessary, even if the estate doesn’t meet Minnesota’s net worth guidelines, is in the case of disputed inheritance.

What are the different types of probate?

Informal probate. This type of probate involves the least amount of interaction with the court system. It is appropriate for estates that are undisputed and more straightforward. Usually, a will is available to guide the process of informal probate. To initiate informal probate, you must file an application to ask the court to appoint a personal representative without a formal hearing with a judge.

Formal probate. This type of probate is more appropriate for large, complex estates and disputed inheritances. You must file a formal application to request a hearing with a judge and the appointment of a personal representative.

For any estate in which probate is necessary, hiring a lawyer is advisable. Legal matters are complicated, and you need a guide—especially at such a difficult time.