December 15, 2023

Are Wills Public Record?

After a person passes away, their assets and belongings are typically distributed to their heirs based on their will. But what happens to the will after the person’s death? Is it made public?

The answer to this question is yes. Typically, after the will is filed and validated in probate court, it becomes public record.

Why Do Wills Go Through Probate?

Wills go through probate court because it involves the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person, which includes:

  • Validating the will
  • Identifying and appraising the deceased person’s property
  • Paying off any outstanding debts and taxes
  • Distributing the remaining property to the beneficiaries

Probate court ensures that each one of these processes is carried out according to the law, and that the deceased person’s wishes are respected

Why Are Wills Made Public?

It is important for wills to remain accessible even after the probate process is completed. This is due to the possibility that another individual or creditor may have been missed during probate and may have a claim on the estate.

To prevent this, probated wills become public records, allowing anyone to view them in their entirety by visiting the courthouse.

Once the court officially closes the probate, the will is considered a public record. Anyone can go to the courthouse where it is filed, pay a required fee )if applicable), and obtain a copy of the will.

Are Wills Filed with the State?

Wills are not typically filed with the state government in the United States. Instead, they are filed with the probate court in the county where the deceased resided at the time of their death.

The probate court oversees the distribution of the deceased person’s assets and ensures that their debts and taxes are paid. While the probate process is regulated by state law, the will itself is not filed with the state government.

Is a Will Public Record in Minnesota?

Yes, in Minnesota wills are considered public record once they have been filed with the probate court. This means that anyone can request a copy of the will from the court.

However, certain information contained in the will, such as the pension assets or other qualified retirement plans, may be redacted or kept confidential.

How Can I Avoid My Will Becoming Public Record?

A trust can help avoid probate because assets that are transferred to the trust during the grantor’s lifetime are no longer considered part of the grantor’s probate estate.

Instead, those assets are owned by the trust and are distributed according to the trust’s terms when the grantor passes away.

This can help streamline the distribution process and avoid the need for probate court involvement.

Trust Our Attorneys To Protect Your Privacy

It’s important to understand that transferring all assets to a trust may not always be feasible or advisable, and the details of your estate plan will vary based on your specific situation.

Therefore, working closely with an experienced attorney at KTF Law Firm can help you plan your estate to avoid probate and safeguard you and your loved ones’ privacy.

To learn more about protecting your estate, contact us for a free consultation. Whether you already have an estate plan in place or need to start one, we can help!

Two students looking through public records.
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