New Hennepin County probate referees announced

by Boyd Johnson on August 9, 2010

Hennepin County has announced the addition of two part-time probate referees to replace Bruce Kruger, who has retired. Rumors of these appointments have circulated for a while now, but the official announcement came last week (see text below).

I’m not familiar with George Borer, but I do have experience with Dean Maus. Maus has been a long-time referee in Ramsey County and will presumably split duties between the two locations. All my experiences with Referee Maus have been good and he will be an excellent addition to Hennepin County. I’ve had a few non-contested, but sensitive, guardianship cases in Ramsey County and found Referee Maus to have a good “beside manner”, so to speak, with my clients in the appointment process.

The announcement circulated last week is as follows:

On behalf of the Fourth Judicial District I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dean Maus and George Borer to serve as part-time referees in Probate/Mental Health Court. Dean and George will fill the position left open by the retirement of long-time Referee Bruce Kruger.

Dean and George bring a wealth of experience to the Bench. Dean has more than 20 years of legal experience working with Probate Law and has been a Referee in the Second Judicial District for more than 10 years. George has more than 30 years in private practice working with probate, guardianship, elder law, and estate planning practice, and has been an instructor for Continuing Legal Education regarding Guardian and Conservatorships.

George began his duties on August 2, 2010, and Dean will begin on August 18, 2010. Given their exemplary backgrounds and proven ability to work with the wide range of people who come into the Probate and Mental Health Courts, we are confident that Dean and George will excel in their new positions. They are a great addition to the Fourth Judicial District.

After 20 years on the bench as one of Hennepin County’s probate referees, Bruce Kruger is retiring. Today, the court sent an announcement of his upcoming retirement party for attorneys and colleagues. The party is scheduled for July 30th from noon to 2:00 p.m. in Courtroom 457. No RSVP is required.

Earlier this year, Hennepin County was seeking to fill two, part-time referee positions. Perhaps this news is the reason.

Referee Kruger will be missed. I found him to be tough, but fair. Whenever I had a probate with feuding relatives, I was always glad to draw Kruger at the hearing. He would get to the core of the matter and had no tolerance for petty bickering that so often accompanies family feuds.

Though his demeanor in the courtroom could be gruff at times, I’ve found him to be personable. Once I met him in his chambers along with opposing counsel for a pretrial hearing. He swiftly guided us to a resolution and then he spent at least another 30 minutes just shooting the breeze with us. If I recall correctly, we talked about fishing, sports, and a few probate “war stories.” He didn’t seem to be in a hurry and, as a younger attorney, I relished the opportunity to get to know a referee whom I appeared before frequently. It seemed the chat would have lasted even longer, but the opposing counsel was in a hurry to go somewhere.

On another occasion in his courtroom for an initial formal hearing, Referee Kruger asked my client whether the decedent’s will had a “written list.” The client responded that, yes, there was a written list. This was news to me since I had never seen it. Obviously, Kruger wanted the written list and the client responded that it was at home. With the signing of the Order appointing my client as the PR suspended, my client and I went out into the hallway to discuss this written list that I hadn’t seen. I discovered that she had misunderstood the question and thought Kruger was referring to “the written list” of inventory of all the decedent’s belongings that my client had prepared. I sheepishly led my client back into the courtroom to correct the record, expecting that somehow I’d be reamed for it as I had seen another judge do in a certain county to the north. To my surprise, Kruger was gracious and thanked us for coming back in to correct the record so quickly. We were thankful as well, since the Order wouldn’t have issued without it.

Opening available: Hennepin County Probate Referee

May 14, 2010

Hennepin County has announced the need to fill two, part-time referee positions in the probate/mental-health division. Find out more and how to apply here.

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New “Probate In Common Newsletter” published

May 14, 2010

Alonna Warns, one of Hennepin County’s Registrars, released today the latest issue of her newsletter, “Probate In Common.” In this issue (Vol. 7:1), she covers the following topics: Probates for Non-resident decedents Issues related to the Notice to Commissioner Dismissed Orders Common mistakes on Informal Applications If you practice probate in Hennepin County, this newsletter [...]

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New “Probate In Common Newsletter” published

May 14, 2010

Alonna Warns, one of Hennepin County’s Registrars, released today the latest issue of her newsletter, “Probate In Common.” In this issue (Vol. 7:1), she covers the following topics: Probates for Non-resident decedents Issues related to the Notice to Commissioner Dismissed Orders Common mistakes on Informal Applications If you practice probate in Hennepin County, this newsletter [...]

Read the full article →

New procedure in Hennepin County for issuance of formal estate letters

February 5, 2010

Hennepin County announced today that beginning Monday (2/8), the procedure for obtaining estate letters will change for formal probates. Previously, the estate letters (Letters Testamentary or Letters of General Administration) issued from the “Estate Desk” (i.e. the staff behind the counter). Now, the Letters will issue from the Registrars. According to the notice issued from [...]

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Hennepin County Registrars release updated guide to informal probate

January 27, 2010

The Hennepin County Probate Registrars recently released an updated guide to informal probates. The guide contains helpful information when preparing an informal probate, including customs unique to Hennepin County. I frequently used the old guide when preparing probates. Overall, there isn’t much new compared to the old version. But if you practice in Hennepin County, [...]

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Hennepin County Registrars release updated guide to informal probate

January 27, 2010

The Hennepin County Probate Registrars recently released an updated guide to informal probates.
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The guide contains helpful information when preparing an informal probate, including customs unique to Hennepin County. I frequently used the old guide when preparing probates. Overall, there isn’t much new compared to the old version. But if you practice in Hennepin County, [...]

Read the full article →

Schedule your Hennepin County Probate Registrar appointment in the suburbs

November 2, 2009

If you are opening an informal probate in Hennepin County, save time and avoid the hassle and expense of parking by meeting one of the Probate Registrars in the suburbs rather than downtown. About every other week, Ms. Peterson travels to Brookdale for part of a day. I believe she does the same thing for [...]

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Proof of death not required for formals in Hennepin County

July 8, 2009

Unlike informal probates in Hennepin County, proof of death documentation (e.g. a death certificate, an obituary, etc.) is not required to be submitted when filing for a formal probate. The reason is that the petitioner proves up the petition in court, testifying under oath the facts of the decedent’s death. As a result, the proof [...]

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