Wills and Estates – Small Estates – Minnesota
Small Estates General Summary: Small Estate laws were enacted in order to enable heirs to obtain property of the deceased without probate, or with shortened probate proceedings, provided certain conditions are met. Small estates can be administered with less time and cost. If the deceased had conveyed most property to a trust but there remains some property, small estate laws may also be available. Small Estate procedures may generally be used regardless of whether there was a Will. In general, the two forms of small estate procedures are recognized:
1. Small Estate Affidavit -Some States allow an affidavit to be executed by the spouse and/or heirs of the deceased and present the affidavit to the holder of property such as a bank to obtain property of the deceased. Other states require that the affidavit be filed with the Court. The main requirement before you may use an affidavit is that the value of the personal and/or real property of the estate not exceed a certain value.
2. Summary Administration -Some states allow a Summary administration. Some States recognize both the Small Estate affidavit and Summary Administration, basing the requirement of which one to use on the value of the estate. Example: If the estate value is 10,000 or less an affidavit is allowed but if the value is between 10,000 to 20,000 a summary administration is allowed.
Under Minnesota statute, where as estate is valued at not more than $75,000, an interested party may, thirty (30) days after the death of the decedent, issue a small estate affidavit to collect any debts owed to the decedent.
Minnesota requirements are set forth in the statutes below.
524.3-1201 Collection of Personal Property By Affidavit.
(a) Thirty days after the death of a decedent, (i) any person indebted to the decedent, (ii) any person having possession of tangible personal property or an instrument evidencing a debt, obligation, stock, or chose in action belonging to the decedent, or (iii) any safe deposit company, as defined in section 55.01, controlling the right of access to decedent’s safe deposit box shall make payment of the indebtedness or deliver the tangible personal property or an instrument evidencing a debt, obligation, stock, or chose in action or deliver the entire contents of the safe deposit box to a person claiming to be the successor of the decedent, or a state or county agency with a claim authorized by section 256B.15, upon being presented a certified death record of the decedent and an affidavit made by or on behalf of the successor stating that:
(1) the value of the entire probate estate, determined as of the date of death, wherever located, including specifically any contents of a safe deposit box, less liens and encumbrances, does not exceed $75,000;
(2) 30 days have elapsed since the death of the decedent or, in the event the property to be delivered is the contents of a safe deposit box, 30 days have elapsed since the filing of an inventory of the contents of the box pursuant to section 55.10, paragraph (h);
(3) no application or petition for the appointment of a personal representative is pending or has been granted in any jurisdiction;
(4) if presented, by a state or county agency with a claim authorized by section 256B.15, to a financial institution with a multiple-party account in which the decedent had an interest at the time of death, the amount of the affiant’s claim and a good faith estimate of the extent to which the decedent was the source of funds or beneficial owner of the account; and
(5) the claiming successor is entitled to payment or delivery of the property.
(b) A transfer agent of any security shall change the registered ownership on the books of a corporation from the decedent to the successor or successors upon the presentation of an affidavit as provided in subsection (a).
(c) The claiming successor or state or county agency shall disburse the proceeds collected under this section to any person with a superior claim under section 524.2-403 or 524.3-805.
(d) A motor vehicle registrar shall issue a new certificate of title in the name of the successor upon the presentation of an affidavit as provided in subsection (a).
(e) The person controlling access to decedent’s safe deposit box need not open the box or deliver the contents of the box if:
(1) the person has received notice of a written or oral objection from any person or has reason to believe that there would be an objection; or
(2) the lessee’s key or combination is not available.
524.3-1202 Effect of Affidavit.
The person paying, delivering, transferring, or issuing personal property or the evidence thereof pursuant to an affidavit meeting the requirements of section 524.3-1201 is discharged and released to the same extent as if the person dealt with a personal representative of the decedent. The person is not required to see to the application of the personal property or evidence thereof or to inquire into the truth of any statement in the affidavit. In particular, the person delivering the contents of a safe deposit box is not required to inquire into the value of the contents of the box and is authorized to rely solely upon the representation in the affidavit concerning the value of the entire probate estate. If any person to whom an affidavit is delivered refuses to pay, deliver, transfer, or issue any personal property or evidence thereof, it may be recovered or its payment, delivery, transfer, or issuance compelled upon proof of their right in a proceeding brought for the purpose by or on behalf of the persons entitled thereto. Any person to whom payment, delivery, transfer or issuance is made is answerable and accountable therefor to any personal representative of the estate or to any other person having a superior right.
524.3-1203 Summary Proceedings.
Subdivision 1. Petition and payment.
Upon petition of an interested person, the court, with or without notice, may determine that the decedent had no estate, or that the property has been destroyed, abandoned, lost, or rendered valueless, and that no recovery has been had nor can be had for it, or if there is no property except property recovered for death by wrongful act, property that is exempt from all debts and charges in the probate court, or property that may be appropriated for the payment of the property selection as provided in section 524.2-403, the allowances to the spouse and children mentioned in section 524.2-404, and the expenses and claims provided in section 524.3-805, paragraph (a), clauses (1) to (6), inclusive, the personal representative by order of the court may pay the estate in the order named. The court may then, with or without notice, summarily determine the heirs, legatees, and devisees in its final decree or order of distribution assigning to them their share or part of the property with which the personal representative is charged.
Subd. 2. Final decree or order.
If upon hearing of a petition for summary assignment or distribution, for special administration, or for any administration, or for the probate of a will, the court determines that there is no need for the appointment of a representative and that the administration should be closed summarily for the reason that all of the property in the estate is exempt from all debts and charges in the probate court, a final decree or order of distribution may be entered, with or without notice, assigning that property to the persons entitled to it under the terms of the will, or if there is no will, under the law of intestate succession in force at the time of the decedent’s death.
Subd. 3. Summary distribution.
Summary distribution may be made under this section in any proceeding of any real, personal, or other property in kind in reimbursement or payment of the property selection as provided in section 524.2-403, the allowances to the spouse and children mentioned in section 524.2-404, and the expenses and claims provided in section 524.3-805, paragraph (a), clauses (1) to (6), inclusive, in the order named, if the court is satisfied as to the propriety of the distribution and as to the valuation, based upon appraisal in the case of real estate other than homestead, of the property being assigned to exhaust the assets of the estate.
Subd. 4. Personal representative.
Summary proceedings may be had with or without the appointment of a personal representative. In all summary proceedings in which no personal representative is appointed, the court may require the petitioner to file a corporate surety bond in an amount fixed and approved by the court. The condition of the bond must be that the petitioner has made a full, true, and correct disclosure of all the facts related in the petition and will perform the terms of the decree or order of distribution issued pursuant to the petition. Any interested person suffering damages as a result of misrepresentation or negligence of the petitioner in stating facts in the petition pursuant to which an improper decree or order of distribution is issued, or the terms of the decree or order of distribution are not performed by the petitioner as required, has a cause of action against the petitioner and the surety to recover those damages in the court in which the proceeding took place. That court has jurisdiction of the cause of action.
Subd. 5. Exhaustion of estate.
In any summary, special, or other administration in which it appears that the estate will not be exhausted in payment of the priority items enumerated in subdivisions 1 to 4, the estate may nevertheless be summarily closed without further notice, and the property assigned to the proper persons, if the gross probate estate, exclusive of any exempt homestead as defined in section 524.2-402, and any exempt property as defined in section 524.2-403, does not exceed the value of $100,000. If the closing and distribution of assets is made pursuant to the terms of a will, no decree shall issue until a hearing has been held for formal probate of the will as provided in sections 524.3-401 to 524.3-413.
No summary closing of an estate shall be made to any distributee under this subdivision, unless a showing is made by the personal representative or the petitioner, that all property selected by and allowances to the spouse and children as provided in section 524.2-403 and the expenses and claims provided in section 524.3-805 have been paid, and provided, further, that a bond shall be filed by the personal representative or the petitioner, conditioned upon the fact that all such obligations have been paid and that all the facts shown on the petition are true, with sufficient surety approved by the court in an amount as may be fixed by the court to cover potential improper distributions. If a personal representative is appointed, the representative’s bond shall be sufficient for such purpose unless an additional bond is ordered, and the sureties on the bond shall have the same obligations and liabilities as provided for sureties on a distribution bond.
In the event that an improper distribution or disbursement is made in a summary closing, in that not all of said obligations have been paid or that other facts as shown by the personal representative or the petitioner, are not true, resulting in damage to any party, the court may vacate its summary decree or closing order, and the petitioner or the personal representative, together with the surety, shall be liable for damages to any party determined to be injured thereby as herein provided. The personal representative, petitioner, or the surety, may seek reimbursement for damages so paid or incurred from any distributee or recipient of assets under summary decree or order, who shall be required to make a contribution to cover such damages upon a pro rata basis or as may be equitable to the extent of assets so received. The court is hereby granted complete and plenary jurisdiction of any and all such proceedings and may enter such orders and judgments as may be required to effectuate the purposes of this subdivision.
Any judgment rendered for damages or the recovery of assets in such proceedings shall be upon petition and only after hearing held thereon on 14 days’ notice of hearing and a copy of petition served personally upon the personal representative and the surety and upon any distributee or recipient of assets where applicable. Any action for the recovery of money or damages under this subdivision is subject to the time and other limitations imposed by section 524.1-304.
524.3-1204 Closing by Sworn Statement of Personal Representative
(a) Unless prohibited by order of the court and except for estates being administered by supervised personal representatives, a personal representative may close an estate administered under the summary procedures of section 524.3-1203 by filing with the court, at any time after disbursement and distribution of the estate, a statement stating that:
(1) to the best knowledge of the personal representative, the entire estate, less liens and encumbrances, did not exceed an exempt homestead as provided for in section 524.2-402, the allowances provided for in sections 524.2-403 and 524.2-404, costs and expenses of administration, reasonable funeral expenses, and reasonable, necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last illness of the decedent;
(2) the personal representative has fully administered the estate by disbursing and distributing it to the persons entitled thereto; and
(3) the personal representative has sent a copy of the closing statement to all distributees of the estate and to all creditors or other known claimants whose claims are neither paid nor barred and has furnished a full account in writing of the personal representative’s administration to the distributees whose interests are affected.
(b) If no actions or proceedings involving the personal representative are pending in the court one year after the closing statement is filed, the appointment of the personal representative terminates.
(c) A closing statement filed under this section has the same effect as one filed under section 524.3-1003.
1974 c 442 art 3 s 524.3-1204; 1975 c 347 s 70; 1976 c 161 s 14; 1986 c 444; 1996 c 305 art 1 s 114