Minnesota Personal Representative – Minnesota Co-Personal Representatives.
Minnesota Personal Representative –
Minnesota Co-Personal Representatives
Duties of a Minnesota Personal Representative – Minnesota co-Personal Representatives
Once a Minnesota Personal Representative or Minnesota co-Personal Representatives have been appointed by either a judge, or a probate registrar, the duties of a Minnesota Personal Representative or Minnesota co-Personal Representatives in a Minnesota Probate Administration will include, but not be limited to:
- taking possession and making an inventory of the decedent’s assets, and reporting the same to the court – if required, and to the persons who are legally interested in the estate;
- providing notice of the probate proceeding to the proper Medical Assistance officials;
- filing all tax returns on behalf of the decedent and his or her estate, and paying all required taxes;
- paying all of the decedent’s debts in the required manner, to the extent that there are sufficient assets to do so;
- distributing any assets remaining after payment of the decedent’s taxes and debts to the persons entitled to such property, either pursuant to the decedent’s Will, state law, or court order; and
- closing the estate in a manner most appropriate to the situation.
Minnesota Probate Administration – Creditors’ Claims
One of the purposes of Minnesota Probate Administration in is to allow the decedent’s creditors an opportunity to:
- file claims for payment of any outstanding debts with the court, or
- present such claims to the Minnesota Personal Representatives.
Minnesota Probate Administration – Definition of “claims”
Minnesota Statutes provide the following definition of “claims”:
- liabilities of the decedent whether arising in contract or otherwise and
- liabilities of the estate which arise after the death of the decedent including funeral expenses and expenses of administration.
The term does not include taxes, demands or disputes regarding title of a decedent to specific assets alleged to be included in the estate, tort claims, foreclosure of mechanic’s liens, or to actions pursuant to section 573.02.
The County Medical Assistance office is always a potential creditor of the estate in any Minnesota Probate Administration.
Personal Representatives’ Duties with Respect to Creditor’s Claims
In addition to the initial mailed or published notice of the probate proceeding, some creditors in a Minnesota Probate Administration will also be entitled to a supplemental personal notice by United States certified mail – pursuant to judicially determined requirements.
If such supplemental notice is not provided in a Minnesota Probate Administration by the Minnesota Personal Representative, the statutory time period for the filing or presentation of claims with respect to such creditors will be one year from the date of death – instead of:
- four months from the date of first publication of the notice of any hearing in a formal administration, or
- four months from the date of the notice of the appointment of the Personal Representative in an informal administration.
After the expiration of the statutory time period for the filing or presentation of creditor claims, the Personal Representatives in a Minnesota Probate Administration will have certain duties with respect to any claims which were filed or presented in a timely manner.
In particular, a Minnesota Personal Representative or Minnesota co-Personal Representatives may have a duty to take action to disallow certain claims which are not be legitimate.
Taking no action with respect to a claim will be an acknowledgment by a Minnesota Personal Representative or Minnesota co-Personal Representatives of its validity.
Minnesota Probate Administration – Insolvent Estates
To the extent that an estate in a Minnesota Probate Administration will not be able to pay in full all of the legitimate claims which were filed or presented in a timely manner, a Minnesota Personal Representative or Minnesota co-Personal Representatives should not pay any such claims without a court order directing how much each of the creditors are entitled to receive.
The payment of legitimate duly filed claims is subject to a priority ranking system in a Minnesota Probate Administration, with higher priority debts being entitled to receive payment in full before lower priority debts are entitled to be paid.
The process of handling creditor claims in a Minnesota Probate Administration is subject to statutory requirements, which is best left to an experienced probate attorney.
Minnesota Probate Administration – Income Tax Issues
A Minnesota Personal Representative or Minnesota co-Personal Representatives will have the responsibility to file any income tax returns on behalf of the decedent with both the IRS, and the Minnesota Department of Revenue.
Such returns include the IRS Form 1040, and the Minnesota Form M-1, with respect to income tax years ending on the date of the decedent’s death.
However, the status of any income tax returns which were filed by the decedent prior to death are also of concern to a Minnesota Personal Representative or Minnesota co-Personal Representatives in a Minnesota Probate Administration.
A Minnesota Personal Representative or Minnesota co-Personal Representatives will also be responsible for filing the estate’s IRS Form 1041, and Minnesota Form M-2, with respect to income tax years commencing on the date of the decedent’s death, and continuing thereafter.
General Statute of Limitations: IRS Form 1040 – IRC Section 6501
IRC § 6501(a) addresses the limitations imposed on the IRS with respect to the assessment and collection of any tax other than the estate tax, by providing in part as follows:
Except as otherwise provided in this section,
the amount of any tax imposed by this title (Internal Revenue Title)
shall be assessed within 3 years after the return was filed
(whether or not such return was filed on or after the date prescribed)
Therefore, the IRS generally has three years from the date of filing of a return in which to audit the return, and assess any deficiencies it deems appropriate.
Such assessments will be made against the decedent’s estate after death, even with respect to income tax years commencing prior to the decedent’s death.
Extent of Personal Liability of Personal Representatives
A Minnesota Personal Representative or Minnesota co-Personal Representatives of a decedent’s estate in a Minnesota Probate Administration may be personally liable for any debts the decedent owed to the United States, or to the State of Minnesota, if the Minnesota Personal Representative or Minnesota co-Personal Representatives either:
- had knowledge of the debt owed to the government, or
- knew facts that would lead to further inquiry about such debts,
and distributed estate assets to the estate’s beneficiaries without discharging the debts, leaving the estate insolvent and unable to pay the decedent’s debts income tax liabilities.
Minnesota Probate Administration – Duty of Inquiry
Under federal law, a Minnesota Personal Representative or Minnesota co-Personal Representatives will have a duty of inquiry to determine whether:
- all necessary income tax returns have been filed,
- all income has been reported, and
- all taxes due have been paid.
Minnesota Probate Administration – Knowledge Required
Under federal law, a Minnesota Personal Representative or Minnesota co-Personal Representatives’ liability for unpaid taxes will depend on whether the Minnesota Personal Representative or Minnesota co-Personal Representatives had:
- knowledge of the existence of a claim for back taxes, or
- knowledge of facts that would put him or her on inquiry with respect to any such back taxes.
The Minnesota Personal Representative or Minnesota co-Personal Representatives most likely have knowledge of the facts regarding unpaid taxes the IRS may determine after auditing any income tax returns which were signed by the Personal Representatives.
However, with respect to any income tax returns filed by the decedent before his or her death, the Minnesota Personal Representative or Minnesota co-Personal Representatives may have a duty to make inquiry as to whether all income taxes have been paid – as finally determined by the IRS.
Minnesota Probate Administration – Burden of Proof
Under federal law, the burden of proving a Personal Representatives’ lack of knowledge with respect to any unpaid taxes of the decedent is generally on the Personal Representative.
Payment of Claims Having Priority Over Federal Taxes
Under federal law, the Minnesota Personal Representative or Minnesota co-Personal Representatives are allowed to pay any debts or claims against the estate that have priority over the debts due to the United States, such as expenses of administration, funeral expenses, and family allowances.
Therefore, Personal Representatives will be protected from any claims by the IRS with respect to any payments by the Personal Representatives for:
- court costs and attorney fees required to administer the estate,
- funeral expenses, and
- family allowances allowed by the court.
However, last-illness expenses are subordinate to federal tax debts, as are claims having a lower priority for payment.
Discharge of the Personal Representatives by the Probate Court
Any discharge of the Minnesota Personal Representative or Minnesota co-Personal Representatives by the probate court in a Minnesota Probate Administration after final distribution of estate assets will not eliminate the liability of the Personal Representatives for unpaid federal taxes of the decedent.
However, there are certain income tax documents which can be filed with both the Internal Revenue Service, and the Minnesota Department of Revenue, which may shorten the time periods during which the tax authorities can assess any income tax liability against the Personal Representatives.
Minnesota Probate Administration – Closing the Estate
Unless the administration of an estate is being supervised by the court, the Personal Representatives in a Minnesota Probate Administration will not need court approval in order to close the estate, unless one of the beneficiaries, or in some cases the Minnesota Attorney General, objects to the manner in which the estate has been administered.
There are two ways to close an estate in a Minnesota Probate Administration:
- Without court approval; or
- With court approval.
Closing the estate with court approval would provide better protection to the Personal Representatives than would closing the estate without court approval.
(i) Closing without court approval – UNSUPERVISED PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE’S STATEMENT TO CLOSE ESTATE
The procedure to close an estate in a Minnesota Probate Administration without court approval – which is not available if the estate is being supervised by the court – involves filing with the court, and providing to all of the interested parties, a closing statement indicating that the Personal Representatives:
- has completed all of their fiduciary duties as Personal Representatives, and properly administered the estate, and
- has previously provided to each of the interested parties copies of the Inventory and the Final Account – which identify how the estate was administered.
The filing of such a closing statement will begin the running of a one-year limitations period with respect to any claims being brought against the Personal Representatives for the manner in which the estate was administered.
However, the Personal Representatives’ authority to act as the Personal Representative will continue for one year after the filing of the closing statement.
(ii) Closing with court approval
Closing of the estate with court approval in a Minnesota Probate Administration can be accomplished either:
- with a hearing before a judge or probate referee, or
- in some cases, without a hearing.
Minnesota Probate Administration – Closing the Estate With a Hearing
If there was going to be a hearing before a judge or probate referee on the Final Account in a Minnesota Probate Administration, the Personal Representatives would:
- submit the proposed Final Account to the court, and provide a copy thereof to all interested persons,
- petition the court for approval of the Final Account, and
- allow the Will Beneficiaries to file with the court any objections they may have with respect to the proposed Final Account, or the manner in which the Personal Representatives have administered the estate.
If no objections are filed, or if the court otherwise approves of the manner in which the estate has been administered, it will approve the Final Account.
Minnesota Probate Administration – Closing the Estate Without a Hearing
There are two procedures available to obtain court approval for the closing of the estate in a Minnesota Probate Administration without a hearing:
(i) Written Consent
The first procedure involves obtaining the written consent of all of the named Will beneficiaries – including those not entitled to receive any distributions from the estate for some reason – to the manner in which the Personal Representatives have administered the estate.
(ii) Proposal for Distribution
The second procedure involves preparing a Proposal for Distribution which identifies the manner in which the Personal Representatives intend to distribute the estate 30 days after providing written notice of the Proposal for Distribution to all of the named Will beneficiaries – including those not entitled to receive any distributions.
If no objection is received by the Personal Representatives within 30 days after service of the Proposal for Distribution, distribution of the estate assets can be made as identified in the Proposal for Distribution.
Minnesota Probate Administration – Discharge of the Personal Representatives
After the Final Account has been approved by the Probate Court in a Minnesota Probate Administration, the Personal Representatives may petition the court for a formal discharge from the duties of the Personal Representatives.
Conclusion – Minnesota Personal Representatives
For information on Minnesota Transfer on Death Deeds, see http://www.dahlelawminnesota.com/minnesota-transfer-death-deed/
For information on Minnesota Real Estate Law, see http://www.dahlelawminnesota.com/minnesota-title-evidence-ownership/
Gary C. Dahle is also licensed in North Dakota.
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Gary C. Dahle – Attorney at Law
2704 Mounds View Blvd., Mounds View, MN 55112
Phone: 763-780-8390 Fax: 763-780-1735
Topics of Interest:
- Minnesota Affidavit Collection of Personal Property
- Minnesota Ancillary Probate – Ancillary Probate in Minnesota
- Minnesota Determination of Descent – Minnesota Decree of Descent
- Minnesota Probate Law – Minnesota Probate Law Attorney
- Minnesota Probate Lawyer – Minnesota Probate Attorney
- Minnesota Probate New Brighton – Minnesota Probate 55112
- Minnesota Safe Deposit Box – Minnesota Safe Deposit Boxes
- Minnesota Special Administration – Minnesota Special Administrator
- Minnesota Summary Proceedings – Minnesota Summary Administration
- Minnesota Joint Tenancy
Information provided herein is only for general informational and educational purposes. Minnesota probate law involves many complex legal issues. If you have a specific legal problem about which you are seeking advice, consult with a Minnesota attorney of your choice.
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Links to Minnesota Probate Records
Minnesota Department of Health – Death Records Index – 1997 to Present: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/chs/osr/DecdIndex/dthSearch.cfm
Minnesota Historical Society – Death Records; 1904 – 2001: http://www.mnhs.org/people/deathrecords
Minnesota Department of Health – Birth Certificates – http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/chs/osr/birth.html
Minnesota Historical Society – Birth Records: http://www.mnhs.org/people/birthrecords
Minnesota Marriage Records – https://moms.mn.gov/