Courts in the State of Minnesota cannot open a probate file for a person who has been dead for three or more years. When more than three years has passed since a person died, Minnesota law requires a special proceeding called a “determination of descent”. In this proceeding, an “interested person” can request that a court issue a Minnesota Decree of Descent.
If someone in your family owns real or personal property that needs to be transferred or re-titled, a court order will often be required to accomplish this. Transferring title to assets is normally achieved by filing an application for probate – either with or without a will. However, in cases where more than three years have passed since the date of death, the probate process is no longer available.
Under Minnesota law, any “interested party” can file a Petition for Decree of Descent with the appropriate court where the deceased person lived.
“Interested party” is a legal term that means a person whose rights or property interests could potentially be impacted by the process. Potential heirs or beneficiaries of the decedent are usually the interested parties who file petitions. However, creditors or government agencies, such as the Internal Revenue Service, could also be interested parties if the estate owes creditors or taxes.
Interested parties generally file petitions for a Decree of Descent if there is property or assets owned in the name of the decedent that needs to be transferred or re-titled. This cannot be accomplished without a court order. If the decedent owned an investment account or a vehicle titled solely in his or her name alone at the time of his or her death, that account or automobile cannot be re-titled in someone else’s name without a court order. The order can only be obtained through a probate proceeding or by filing a petition for a determination of descent.
As with other court proceedings, the interested party should file a petition for a determination of descent in the county in which the decedent passed away. This is the proper “venue” for filing the case in court. When the petition for a determination of descent is filed, the Court will fix a time and place for a hearing on that Petition.
Notice of the court hearing must be given to the beneficiaries of the deceased person. These beneficiaries could include: a spouse, children, grandchildren, and creditors (if known). Notice of the petition must also be published in a legal newspaper for two consecutive weeks – which is the same requirement for published notice in any probate proceeding.
Any interested party may file a petition for a Decree of Descent in Minnesota. “Interested party” is a legal term that means a person whose rights or property interests could potentially be impacted by the process. In other words, potential heirs or beneficiaries are typically the ones filing, but government agencies or creditors, such as the Internal Revenue Service, could also be interested parties if the estate owes taxes.
The reason an interested party would want to file a petition for a Decree of Descent would be if there is property or assets that needs to be transferred or re-titled. This cannot be accomplished without a court order. For example, if the decedent owned a vehicle titled solely in her name at the time of her death, that car cannot be re-titled in someone else’s name without a court order, which must be obtained either through probate or by obtaining a Decree of Descent.