Generally speaking, a probate in Minnesota must be commenced within three years of decedent’s death. After three years, an estate must be settled by a decree of descent, rather than probate.
A decree of descent is different from a probate in that there is no personal representative appointed who administers the estate. The court does not supervise administration of the estate.
The petition for a decree of descent lists the property owned by the decedent, and the decedent’s beneficiaries. The court reviews the petition and decedent’s will or intestate laws and issues an order distributing the decedent’s property directly to beneficiaries.
A decree of descent is usually simpler and more convenient than a probate.