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What assets go through probate?

On Behalf of | Feb 5, 2024 | Estate Planning

Dealing with the passing of a loved one is a challenging experience, and the legal process of probate can add an additional layer of complexity.

In Minnesota, probate is the legal process of administering a deceased person’s estate, ensuring the proper distribution of assets. Understanding which assets go through probate and finding ways to minimize the associated hassles for loved ones can ease the burden during such difficult times.

Assets subject to probate

In Minnesota, any real estate solely owned by the deceased may go through probate. This includes homes, land or other properties. Individual bank accounts without designated beneficiaries may be subject to probate. Joint accounts, on the other hand, typically pass directly to the surviving account holder. Additionally, tangible items such as furniture, jewelry and vehicles may go through probate if not explicitly accounted for in other legal arrangements.

Ways to minimize probate hassles

Probate can be a long process. In 2021, the Minnesota Third Judicial District received 1,497 probate or mental health filings. During estate planning, there are ways to relieve some probate burden for loved ones.

  • Establishing a living trust allows assets to pass directly to beneficiaries, avoiding the probate process. This is particularly useful for real estate and larger estates.
  • Setting up joint ownership for certain assets, like bank accounts or real estate, ensures they automatically pass to the surviving owner, sidestepping probate.
  • Designating beneficiaries on bank accounts, investments and certain securities allows these assets to transfer directly to the named individuals upon the account holder’s death.

While probate is often unavoidable, strategic planning can reduce the assets going through the process.