What Happens if I Die Without a Will?

Intestate Succession in Minnesota

When a person dies without a valid Will, they are said to have died “intestate.” Because there is no Will to indicate what the deceased person’s intentions were, the estate will be administered according to Minnesota’s intestacy laws.

Who Will Care for My Minor Children?

Generally, the surviving parent will have custody of the children. In cases where there is no surviving parent or the surviving parent is unable to care for the children, the Court will appoint a guardian who will care for the children. Parents who want to control who will care for their children can do so by creating a Will and nominating a guardian to take on that responsibility.

Who Gets My Assets?

If a deceased person had no Will, inheritance will be governed by Minnesota law, specifically Minnesota Statutes Sections524.2-101 through 524.2-123. These “intestacy” laws are designed to ensure that a deceased person’s assets get distributed to his or her closest living relatives. The law distributes property that would have been transferable by the terms of a Will as follows:

  •   – A surviving spouse will take all assets that could have been distributed by Will as long as the deceased person did not have children that were not also children of the surviving spouse.
  •  – If a deceased person had children that were not also children of the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse would receive the first $150,000, plus one-half of any additional assets. The children of the deceased person would receive the remaining sum.
  •  – If there is no surviving spouse, then any children of the deceased would inherit equally.
  •  – If there is no surviving spouse and no children, then the deceased person’s surviving parent(s) would inherit.
  •  – If there is no surviving spouse, no children, and no surviving parents of the deceased, then any descendants of the deceased’s parents (i.e. the deceased’s siblings) would inherit equally.

 

People who can change this system of distribution by creating a Will or Trust that reflects their wishes.

Will My Assets Go to the State?

Though possible, it is extremely rare for the assets of a deceased person to be distributed to the state. Such a distribution would only occur if no heir could be found under the intestacy statute, which essentially means that the deceased had no discernable living relatives. If you are concerned about this, however, having a Will can help ensure that such a distribution does not occur.

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