You’ve been appointed Personal Representative of Aunt Molly’s will. Now what…..?
How long will this take?
The probate process is measured in months, not weeks. Expect anywhere from 4- 14 months. As I mentioned in my earlier posts, there are imposed waiting periods on the front end and deadlines on the back end. So, be sure to pay attention if you’re not using an attorney. Depending on what types of assets, debts, and taxation issues Aunt Molly has, and how complicated the details of handling those assets/debts/taxation issues become, you may be looking at a very straight forward process, or a process that is repeatedly suspended and re-engaged as you sort out details and negotiate options. You can’t rush the process and it takes careful consideration and thoughtful decision-making.
What sorts of things will I be required to do?
It depends on what the circumstances require, but you can certainly expect to handle the following tasks, including but not limited to: appearing at scheduled hearings, filling out, drafting, and filing court documents, paying various required fees (most often reimbursable, keep careful records), making phone calls, writing letters, investigatory tasks, filling in “family tree” unknowns, making an inventory of assets and their values, gathering paperwork and affidavits which can confirm and/or verify documentation and assets, communicating with creditors, basic accounting and money management required of someone with fiduciary responsibilities, addressing family issues, keeping track of deadlines, problem-solving, among others.
How do I know if I can handle the job?
Well, you don’t know for sure, but here’s where an attorney can help. Some people aren’t very good at estimating how much time it will take – it hardly needs to become a full-time job, but it may become very involved and therefore, rather time-consumming. If you don’t have the necessary time to devote to the process, perhaps an attorney can be of assistance. If you’re not sure you can handle the skills and details involved, you may find it wise to engage an attorney. Remember that attorneys cost money because estate administration is an entire area of law, in which some lawyers specialize. It involves specific types of court proceedings and fiduciary responsibilities, it can involve litigation, it requires strong organization and communication skills with others who are not always pleased to hear from you. Obviously, if you cringe at the thought of any of these types of skills and requirements, then maybe an attorney is a good idea. You can save lots of money doing it yourself, but then don’t expect the process to be convenient or easy. It may interest some individuals that some attorneys are willing to work in an advisory capacity (meaning, they’re willing to “be on call” when you need them to help with specific tasks or to explain certain processes), but allow you to handle all of what you feel you can. But, caution! These relationships need to be very well-defined in order to avoid misunderstandings and breaches of ethical professional responsibilities on the attorney’s part.
Use the Minnesota Courts website to get started with basic information and court documents. It can be accessed at mncourts.gov.
This blog is written by Bridget-Michaele Reischl, Attorney DECORO LAW OFFICE, PLLC
This blog is not, nor shall it be deemed to be, legal advice or counsel. This blog does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader. It is designed to encourage thoughtful consideration of important legal issues with the expectation that readers will seek professional advice from a licensed attorney.
Contact Bridget-Michaele Reischl at:
DECORO LAW OFFICE, PLLC
6 West 5th Street, Suite 800-D
Saint Paul, MN 55102