One of the most convincing reasons to work to plan your estate and create a last will early in life is that if you die without one, you have no control over how the state allocates your assets. If you don’t have direct family members or heirs, the state of Minnesota could claim most or all of your estate.

Taking the time to create a document that outlines who should receive what in the event of your passing protects your legacy and ensures that the people you love will have access to your assets, instead of being locked out or waiting indefinitely for your estate to go through probate.

What happens if you die without a last will?

When someone dies and does not leave behind a last will or binding estate plan, it is said that they died intestate. Every state has its own approach to managing the intestate succession of an estate when someone dies. The law in Minnesota gives first rights to a spouse and the children of the deceased.

If your spouse is also the parent of your children, they will inherit everything. If your spouse is a stepparent to your biological children, Minnesota will allocate a combination of the first $150,000 worth of assets and half of the remaining estate to your spouse, with the other half of the remaining estate going directly to the children. Typically, stepchildren do not have intestate rights unless you add them in a last will.

If you have distant family members, close friends or a romantic partner that you have not married that you care about, these individuals may not have a right to any of your estate unless you put it in writing that you want them to inherit certain assets. Planning now can give you peace of mind and can ensure that the people you love receive adequate protection and that your assets don’t wind up in the possession of the state of Minnesota.