Civil law suits have a variety of administrative and procedural requirements. Failure to adhere to these requirements can result in a favorable judgment being overturned and the whole case having to start over. Probate is no exception to this. There are important steps that must be taken and rules that must be followed or the case can be reopened later, sometimes with very far-reaching consequences. One of the most important steps in any civil case, including probate, is the notice requirement. In other civil suits, usually only the defendant is entitled to notice. Probate, however, is structured a bit differently, and there are many people who may be entitled to notice in your probate case.
Minnesota probate code provides that a interested parties are entitled to notice of a probate case, stating that a petitioner “shall” provide notice to these people. Section 524.1-201 defines interested person includes “heirs, devisees, children, spouses, creditors, beneficiaries and any others having a property right in or claim against the estate of a decedent, ward or protected person which may be affected by the proceeding.” The law also specifically states that an “interested person” would include fiduciaries who represent an interested person, which would be, for example, a conservator or guardian.
It is important to note that there are two basic classes of people entitled to notice: those who may be entitled to receive money from the estate because the estate owes a debt and those who may be entitled to receive money from the estate because the decedent has left something in the will, or the laws of intestacy will allow that person to inherit. Providing notice of the suit is not an admission by the personal representative of the estate that the estate owes money either because of a debt or because of inheritance. Instead, it provides that person or entity with the fair notice of the case. This allows creditors to timely file claim of debt. It also allows potential heirs or named beneficiaries to challenge the will, if applicable.
Finally, if the last will and testament of the deceased names a charitable institution as a beneficiary of the estate, it will also be necessary to provide notice to the Minnesota Attorney General. A notice must also be sent to the Commissioner of Health and Human Services of Minnesota, as the government may file a claim for costs associated with medical support received by the deceased.
If you have questions about probate and procedure, we can answer them. Call us today at (320) 299-4249 for a consultation. We can talk with you about estate planning, probate, and procedure.