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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

Personal representatives should avoid common probate issues

As this blog has stated before, personal representatives in Minnesota have the difficult job of managing a deceased person's estate, a process that can take considerable time and effort between learning about and gathering a person's assets.

A Saint Paul, Minnesota, personal representative's job is important because he or she is ultimately responsible for making sure that the heirs & beneficiaries of an estate get paid. His or her actions will often be watched closely, particularly when the estate administration process becomes contentious. Especially in a contentious estate, there are certain traps and mistakes against which a personal representative can guard so as to avoid probate litigation.

For one, it is important for a personal representative not to get into a rush to pay bills that the deceased had in his or her name. While it may be tempting to pay these bills quickly, as that seems like the decent thing to do, the personal representative needs both to verify the debt and get an accurate accounting of what sorts of debts the deceased had, as sometimes some debts get higher priority treatment than others.

Also, a personal representative should be very careful about investing or re-investing the estate's assets. Even if there is no self-dealing involved, imprudent investments can cost the rightful heirs their inheritance and could leave them angry at the personal representative. The handling of real estate can be particularly challenging and can present delicate relationship issues.

Finally, although it may seem obvious to some, Minnesota personal representatives need to remember that they are in charge of all of the estate's property and need to care for it appropriately. Allowing property to languish or be pilfered by some family members or friends could lead to litigation and trouble for the personal representative.

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