In Minnesota, dying without a will means that the laws of Minnesota determine who will receive any assets of your estate after your debts and last expenses are paid.
If you die without a will, the Minnesota statutes have a hierarchy of priority for who will manage your estate. If you want any control over who oversees your estate and what percentage of your estate goes where you should consult an estate planning lawyer to get your wishes in writing.
Will My Family Still Be Taken Care Of?
If no will exists, your estate will be distributed according to Minnesota’s intestate succession laws. The beneficiaries and amounts each could receive is determined by following formulas prescribed in the statutes.
For example: if you are married and do not have children, your spouse will inherit the entirety of your estate upon your death if you do not have a will. However, if you have children only with your spouse, your spouse will likely still inherit all or most of your assets most of the time.
If you and your spouse have children from other relationships, your spouse is entitled to the first $225,000 of your intestate property plus half of the remaining balance of your estate. Your children, including your spouse’s children, will receive equal shares of what remains.
Your parents could inherit your entire probate estate if you do not have a surviving spouse or children (including grandchildren). Your siblings will inherit the estate in the absence of living parents. If you have a parent or sibling that are receiving public benefits and they inherit from your estate that could jeopardize the benefits they receive which is why having not only a will but a comprehensive estate plan is important.
Who Gets The House If Owned Jointly?
Jointly held assets, such as real estate owned as joint tenants in Minnesota, will become the sole property of the surviving joint owner. So while your closest relatives will likely assume your probate assets, the surviving homeowner will receive jointly-owned assets. These assets could include real estate deeds, joint bank accounts, or joint investment accounts.
What About Retirement Accounts?
Money from a retirement plan, or any account with a Payable on Death (POD) or Transfer on Death (TOD) designation, will become the property of the beneficiary named at each financial institution. If you did not complete a POD or TOD form with an institution that account may become property of your probate estate. However, where a beneficiary is named that designation supersedes the intestacy laws of Minnesota.
Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late to Formalize Your Will
There is no good reason not to exercise your right to control what happens to your assets after your death and who will be in charge or your estate. Reckoning with mortality can be challenging, but the wealth you have built over your lifetime is worth protecting. An experienced estate planning lawyer can ensure that your assets are not subject to default intestate laws in the event of your death.