The Probate Process Explained | O'Keeffe O'Brien Lyson Attorneys

The Probate Process Explained

After a loved one passes, the process of probate will begin. This is the legal process where the will of the deceased is administered. Both North Dakota and Minnesota have adopted the Uniform Probate Code (UPC). This process was created to make the probate process simpler and to give executors more flexibility.


The probate process consists of many small steps. To ensure proper administration of your loved one’s estate, it is vital that all steps are followed correctly.

Step 1: Open the Estate

  • A request for probate will need to be filed in the county where the deceased person was living. A death certificate and will (if created) will also need to be submitted to the court.
  • An Administrator will be chosen by the court. If there is a will, an administrator may already have been identified in the document. A Notice of Probate needs to be published in a local newspaper. This will give any creditors the opportunity to file a claim against the deceased’s estate.
  • Notify all beneficiaries.
  • If there is a will, it will need to be proven valid by providing a signed statement from one or more witnesses. If the will was properly prepared, this will be a “self-proving affidavit” that was signed in front of a notary.

Step 2: Administering the Estate

  • The chosen administrator will be in charge of accurately distributing the estate. A list of the assets will need to be provided.
  • If required by state law, notify the state health department of the death.
  • File for an estate ID with the IRS.
  • Prepare income tax returns.
  • Pay off debts to creditors.
  • Distribute remaining estate.

Step 3: Closing the Estate

  • Get receipts of all asset transfers that were made to the new owners.
  • File receipts with the court and request the estate to be closed.

Keep in mind that although both Minnesota and North Dakota have adopted the UPC, each state may have a few differences. If you are unclear of the process, or feel there may be problems with the beneficiaries or creditors, hiring a probate attorney will ensure a smoother process. Most families feel more comfortable with hiring a trusted attorney.

Losing a loved one and taking on the additional stress of probate is difficult for all who are involved. The attorneys at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss are experienced in the subject of probate and will be able to assist and guide you through the process. Contact one of our experienced lawyers today to talk about your case.

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