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Heirs can get in the loop on probate without litigation

Minnesota residents who have been through the process probably know that probate can be a frustrating and time-consuming experience, particularly when a person is also grieving the loss of a loved one. Unfortunately, with tensions already high among family members, sometimes what starts as a simple miscommunication or frustration can escalate into even more stressful probate litigation.

Fortunately, there are a few things that heirs and other Minnesota residents can keep in mind while a loved one's estate is going through the probate process. Some Minnesota residents may already know that they cannot simply call up the judge and ask for an update or make an argument. However, they have every right to go to the local courthouse and look up a person's probate file to check on the status. Perhaps for a fee, they can also copy the documents in the file.

Moreover, interested parties may call the court staff and get routine updates on the status of a case, like whether a particular document has been filed or if a hearing is scheduled in front of the judge. Of course, people who call the court should remember that the staff may be busy. Moreover, they should also remember that court staff ordinarily cannot give legal advice or tell heirs what to do.

Moreover, Minnesota heirs should remember that the executor or personal representative has an obligation to communicate openly and honestly with the heirs. Within reason, interested parties should not hesitate to contact the executor with questions about the estate.

Unfortunately, good communication does not always prevent probate litigation. For example, when an executor is simply not doing their job properly, heirs have the right to ask for a court hearing and seek a new personal representative who will fairly serve the rights of all beneficiaries under a will.

Source: Stamford Advocate, "Probate can be a headache, but there is help," Jan. 10, 2014

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Mason & Helmers
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