What happens if you die without a will in Minnesota?

On Behalf of | Mar 13, 2024 | Estate Planning

There’s no legal requirement to have a will and, in fact, for a variety of reasons, the majority of Americans die intestate (i.e., without a will).

Regardless of the reason for foregoing an estate plan, passing away without one can make things vastly more complicated for your family, and it can derail your intent, hope, and assumptions about what will happen to your assets after you die, not to mention guardianship of your minor children, and the care of your pets. So, what happens if you pass away without having made an estate plan?

Inheritance laws

Like other states, Minnesota has inheritance laws. If you die without a will or a living trust, these laws step in to determine how your assets will be divided and distributed. Generally speaking, property will go either to your surviving spouse, if you have one, or to your next closest relatives. This could include direct heirs like your children or even your grandchildren.

If you don’t have a spouse or any children who are still alive, then the following order is used to give preference to other heirs:

  • Grandchildren, if any, and if not, then
  • Parent(s), if they are living, and if not, then
  • Siblings(s), if they are living, and if not, then
  • More Distant relatives

There are some tactics you can use to transfer assets without a will or an estate plan. An example of this could be using a payable-on-death (POD) bank account, where you name a beneficiary who immediately takes over the account if you pass away.

Not having an estate plan can be limiting

Allowing state law to be in charge of this process can substantially limit your options. You won’t be able to leave any of your property to charities or other organizations. You can’t even leave it to a friend because they would not inherit under the laws of intestacy (see above). Therefore, if you want to have more flexibility and decide where your assets will go, then you need to use an estate plan to make your wishes known.

Do you have a plan yet?

You may be reading the above and worrying that your assets are not going to be distributed in a way that you would want if the whole process is left up to the government. If so, take the time to look into all of your estate planning options by seeking legal guidance. Call Sjoberg & Tebelius today (651-738-3433) to make your appointment.