What if someone dies without a will on record in Minnesota?

On Behalf of | Apr 16, 2024 | Estate Planning

Drafting a will can be a stressful experience. It can be difficult for someone to think about what might happen to their family members after they die. Beyond that, many people find it challenging to think about what may happen with family relationships when they are no longer there to support their loved ones.

Despite how common aversion to estate planning is, it is crucial for the protection of an individual and their family members. People never know when life circumstances may suddenly change and leave them or the people they love in a very vulnerable position. Careful estate planning can give someone peace of mind and may allow them to leave a lasting and meaningful legacy.

When someone doesn’t have an estate plan, what happens after they die?

The law controls the descent of their property

Minnesota has clear intestate succession laws describing what happens to personal property if someone does not have a will or other testamentary documents on record. Typically, someone’s immediate family members inherit from their estate if they die without any documents in place.

Spouses often inherit a significant portion or possibly all of someone’s property if they die without a will. Other family circumstances, including whether there are surviving children can determine how much of the estate a spouse receives. If either the deceased or surviving spouse had children from a prior relationship, that could reduce how much of the decedent’s estate passes to their spouse.

Children also have strong inheritance rights, including in scenarios where there is a surviving stepparent. If someone dies with neither a spouse nor children to inherit from their estate, then their parents or siblings might receive their property.

Why intestate succession isn’t ideal

There are many potential issues with letting state law determine what happens with property after someone dies. Intestate succession does not allow for the inclusion of more distant relatives, romantic partners who are not spouses or friends. Additionally, intestate succession rules only outline the general distribution of property. There is still the potential for significant conflict when actually determining who inherits which assets from the estate.

Those who take the time to put together wills, trusts and other documents can leave a legacy that includes every person that matters to them. They can also reduce the likelihood that their families end up inheriting less due to probate litigation costs or experiencing relationship issues triggered by conflicts among beneficiaries.

Those who take the time to put together an estate plan obtain enhanced peace of mind because they know that their wishes are clearly articulated and enforceable. Also, creating thorough documents can limit conflict and potentially maximize what people inherit from an estate.