Showcase on Special Administrations


The specialty area of law in probate administration in Minnesota provides both variety and efficiency for each specific probate situation. The process of administering an estate is governed under a uniform probate code in-order-to promote and provide efficient and effective methods for administrating estates. Every individual estate is different based on the value of the gross estate (assets), and whether the Decedent died with a Will (Testate) or without a Will (Intestate). Some estates are small, meaning the gross value is $75,000 or less, and some may be initiated long after the Decedent’s date of death. Minnesota law provides several procedures of administration for such smaller or older estates. These procedures may include collection of the personal property by an affidavit, or a special, summary, or subsequent administration, and a determination of descent procedure. Oftentimes, these types of administrations are viewed as short-cuts to the more traditional forms of probate administrations.

In certain situations, there may be a need for prompt and immediate action to protect and preserve the assets held in the Decedent’s estate before a Court appoints a Personal Representative. This necessity for action and urgency involves a procedure referred to as a Special Administration. Under Minnesota law, a Special Administrator is appointed in the interim to take charge, protect, and preserve the assets of the estate. The appointment of a Special Administrator may either be on an informal or a formal basis, depending on the county where the Decedent’s estate is administered.

The Urgency Procedure of Appointing a Special Administrator

When there is a sense of urgency, an informal appointment of a Special Administrator is typically sought by filing an application with the probate court. The probate registrar then makes the appointment “when necessary to protect the estate of the decedent….” pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 524.3-614(1). This informal appointment must be completed prior to the appointment of a general personal representative, or after the death or disability of the original personal representative. When a Special Administrator is appointed pending the appointment of a general personal representative, the person(s) named in the will as general personal representative must be the one(s) named as Special Administrator. The Special Administrator role has all the powers of a general personal representative and will be required to collect, manage, and preserve the estate assets. In addition, the Special Administrator is required to account for the estate assets and prepare a Final Accounting for the special administration.

The Non-Emergency Procedure of Appointing a Special Administrator

When there is no pending emergency, the probate court may only “formally” appoint a Special Administrator after the proper notice has been given to the interested parties and a hearing is held on the petition. The formal appointment of a Special Administrator involves the court finding that the appointment is “necessary to preserve the estate or to secure its proper administration. It is important to note that the probate court may alter or waive the notice requirement when no emergency exists. In addition, much like the emergency procedure described above, the person(s) named as general personal representative in the will must be appointed as Special Administrator.

The formally appointed Special Administrator does not have an accounting requirement by Minnesota law, as an informal Special Administrator does. However, it is very likely and common that an accounting will be one of the duties prescribed in the probate court’s order appointing the Special Administrator.

Overall, the appointment of a Special Administrator, whether by a formal or informal administration, will terminate upon the following four customary ways: 1) the appointment of a general personal representative named under a Decedent’s Will; 2) upon the death or disability of the Special Administrator; or 3) by written resignation by a Special Administrator, or 4) upon the probate court’s removal of a Special Administrator for cause.

At Kennedy & Ruhsam Law, the attorneys embrace the role as Special Administrator for the firm’s estate matters. This specialization in holding the fiduciary role as Special Administrator and as Personal Representative for estates makes the Kennedy & Ruhsam Law team a coveted legal entity.

For more information on Special Administrations, please contact Tina M. Johnson, RP® of Kennedy & Ruhsam Law Office: 651-262-2080 or