For many people, estate planning has the primary goal of helping a family avoid probate court. In some states, adequate planning can be enough for even large estates to stay out of probate court, which people may view as expensive or an unnecessary delay to the distribution of assets.

However, in Minnesota, it may not be possible for an individual estate to bypass probate administration in the courts. There are a number of circumstances in which the Minnesota probate courts expect the estate to go through probate, and no amount of planning, other than distributing assets prior to someone’s death, can sidestep that obligation.

Whether you are the beneficiary of an estate or the administrator, understanding when probate is unavoidable can help you align your expectations with the reality of probate law in Minnesota.

Any estate with real property goes through probate

Real property is highly valuable and can often lead to challenges in court now and complicated title claims in the future, which is why the probate courts want to review any estate that involves the transfer of real estate. With the exception of a property held as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, the ownership of real estate will typically mandate probate administration.

In many cases, the real property involved in an estate will be the primary residence of the deceased individual. However, some people who don’t own their own home hold other real estate property as an investment. Whether the property in question is a duplex rented out to others or an unimproved, vacant lot, if there are any real estate holdings among the assets of the estate, Minnesota law requires that the estate pass through probate court.

Estates with a total value of $75,000 or more go through probate court, too

Even when an estate does not include any kind of real property, it may still be necessary to go through probate court depending on the total value of the assets. The administrator or executor should carefully review the value of the assets included in the estate to determine whether they meet the Minnesota state threshold of $75,000 or not.

In order to ensure proper handling and administration, even estates worth less than $75,000 must wait at least 30 days before distributing assets to beneficiaries and heirs to prevent mistakes and oversights.