Probate is a legal proceeding that may be necessary to properly transfer assets of a decedent to their family members or third parties.   If the value of a person’s estate  does not exceed $75,000, there may be a way to accomplish the transfer of assets without filing a probate action with the Court.  Every situation is unique, so consult with an attorney before acting when dealing with a loved one’s estate.

Quiet Title, what does it mean?

“Quiet Title” is a technical phrase to describe how people can ascertain ownership of real estate.  It is a legal theory used when you want to establish that people claiming an interest adverse to yours in real estate do not actually have any interest.  It is also a description used when there may be problems with how real estate was deeded in the past and a person needs to establish they have good, clear title to a parcel of real estate.  Ultimately, a party is looking for a Judge to review the evidence regarding the title to the property and uses of the property and make a decision as to “who” owns “what” in regard to the disputed real estate.  Boundary line disputes, bad legal descriptions, adverse possession claims are just a few instances where it may be necessary to bring a Quiet Title action.

Hiring a residential contractor

Minnesota law requires that a person, which can mean an individual or company, in the business of building residential real estate inclusive of remodeling, must be licensed if their services entail the provision of “two or more special skills” as defined within the statute.  These special skills include excavation, masonry, carpentry, interior finishing, exterior finishing, drywall, roofing, etc.   If you are contemplating hiring someone to work on your home and it entails two or more “special skills”, inquire as to their residential contractor’s license number.  This number should be on the contracts they provide you and all written materials from a contractor.  If you do not see a license number or they hesitate to give you one, be cautious and do further investigation into the contractor and contact the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry to verify the status of their license.  You will lose the right to proceed against the Contractor’s Recovery Fund if you have unlicensed persons do work at your home that required a license.

Prescriptive Easement – Driveway

Not all easements have been written down and show up in a title search.  The typical problem arises where someone may share a driveway, or cross over a part of another’s property on a regular basis to access their property.   All may be well between neighbors until it is not when one side blocks the access of the other.  In Minnesota, if you own Abstract property, a party claiming a right to cross your property would need to prove their use is (1) hostile, (2) actual, (3) continuous and (d) exclusive for a period of 15 years.   My first suggestion if you find yourself in this situation is to talk to your neighbor and try to work out a resolution.  If that fails, we can help.

Residential Construction Warranty

In Minnesota, if you had work done by a residential contractor and now are unhappy with their work because of some defect, you need to follow the process detailed at Minnesota Statute Chapter 327A.  In general, this means you need to give your contractor the opportunity to inspect and allow them the opportunity to repair.  The statute also provides for a dispute resolution procedure.  Oftentimes homeowners are frustrated when projects go bad, or do not meet their expectations and vow never to let “that contractor” back onto their property.  Be cautious of this reaction as it may get in the way of your ability in the future to recover damages against “that contractor”.   Call us if you have contractor problems, we can help.

Residential Construction Contract

In Minnesota, if you are working with a licensed construction contractor they are required by statute to have all proposals, estimates, bids, quotes, contracts, purchase orders and change orders in writing. (Minnesota Statutes Section 326B.809)  Sometimes we all get lackadaisical about how we transact business,  but misunderstandings as to the scope of work and the cost of the work just bring headaches if things go bad.  Don’t let that happen to you, get it in writing.   Note, this provision applies to licensed residential contractors.  In another post, I will discuss “who” those folks include.

Attorney Fees in a Residential Lease

If you have a Minnesota residential lease which has language allowing your landlord to recover their reasonable attorney fees and costs associated with enforcing the terms of the lease, be aware that Minnesota Statutes Section 504B.172 will allow the tenant to recover THEIR attorney fees if the tenant prevails in “the same type of action, under the same circumstances, and to the same extent as specified in the lease for the landlord”.

This change in Minnesota landlord/tenant law went into place for leases entered into after August 1, 2011 and for leases renewed on or after August 1, 2012.

If you have questions about your rights as a residential tenant in Minnesota, you may want to contact Homeline at, a non-profit organization advocating for tenants.  You can always call our offices as well.

You Snooze You Lose

In Minnesota as of July 1, 2014, if you were a party in a civil lawsuit and were served more than one year ago, the matter will be deemed to be dismissed with prejudice. Many creditors have sued out their claims against debtors using a process called a “pocket filing”, which means you may have been personally served but the case not filed. The rule change now requires filing of a lawsuit with the Court and a payment of a filing fee. We are all curious to see what creditors will now do in their collection efforts.

Remember, if you are served or receive something called a “Summons”, pay attention and read it. Just because it does not have a file number on it or anything reflecting that the Court has acted does not mean you can ignore it. Check with an attorney.

Landlord Notice to Vacate?

One of the things we all think is true is that a Minnesota landlord must give a tenant a 30-day written notice to vacate at all times. Beware, however, that if you have a specific lease term with a specific end date, the landlord may not have an obligation to provide you a written notice prior to that end date. The lease language will control over what, if any, notice a landlord must give. If you are a “hold-over” tenant, meaning you have continued to live in a unit past the date of your original lease term without entering into a new lease, THEN there will be an obligation of the landlord (or tenant) to give a 30 day written notice to end the lease term. Here is a link to the Minnesota Attorney General’s website about the kind of notice required:

Always remember, a lease is an enforceable contract. Read and fully understand all the terms of the lease before signing and if you have questions, contact an attorney…of course preferably me.