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What happens if you die without a will in Minnesota?

Drafting a will is the least complicated and thoughtful way to make sure your possessions are passed along according to your wishes. Dying without a valid will in place means the Minnesota court system will decide who inherits your assets.

The state’s intestate succession laws describe the order in which your property will be dispersed, depending upon which family members live longer than you. Since you have no legal will, and no executor to distribute your estate, the court will appoint one for you.

Minnesota’s probate process

Probate is the process where a court decides whether a will is valid and how property is distributed accordingly. All estates must go through probate when:

  • The estate includes any real property, such as land, homes or other structures attached to the ground in Minnesota
  • The estate consists of personal property worth more than $75,000

Distributing property without a will

Assets are distributed solely to a surviving spouse and children that were had only with that spouse. However, it’s more complicated if one or both spouses had children from a previous relationship. In those cases, the surviving spouse receives the first $225,000 of the estate and half of anything left over. The rest goes to adopted or biological children. If a person dies without a surviving spouse, the entire estate goes to his or her children.

Accounts that do not require probate

Minnesota inheritance laws do not include certain types of accounts and policies, that have designated beneficiaries, to go through probate, including:

  • Life insurance payouts
  • Property included in a living trust
  • Pay-on-death bank accounts
  • Transfer-on-death investment accounts
  • IRAs and other retirement accounts
  • Joint tenancy property
  • Transfer-on-death real property

Estate plans help families avoid chaos and conflict

Drafting a will ensures that your wishes are followed once you are no longer here, and it also keeps families from dealing with additional issues during what is already a difficult and challenging time. Estate plans also bring peace of mind while you are still alive by designating a guardian for your children if both parents die and naming representatives to make financial or medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated. An experienced estate planning attorney here in Minnesota can help you put a plan in place that meets you and your family’s needs.