A will is a set of instructions that you leave behind stating what you want to do with your assets after you pass away.
While many people find it helpful to create a will or estate plan, some people die without a will, which is like leaving your things in your house and giving no one instructions about what to do with them.
Dying without a will
In Minnesota, if you die without a will, the state takes over your assets and distributes them. The state has its own set of rules that it must abide by.
Minnesota courts that deal with cases where people die without a will must abide by specific rules and laws. Intestate means dying without a will, and succession refers to the people who get your assets.
The law dictates that family comes first and prioritizes the closest relatives. The usual order is:
- Spouse (split with children if there are children)
- Children (split among them if there is no living spouse)
- Parents (if there are no spouse or children)
- Siblings (if there are no spouses, children or parents)
- More distant relatives (if there are no spouse, children, parents or siblings)
Distant relatives could be grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
What about friends?
Friends do not qualify to receive anything from a deceased individual per intestate succession law.
What if the deceased left minors behind?
If the deceased left minor children behind and there is no living parent, a judge will decide who will take custody of the children. It could be family or someone else.
After you pass without a will, the court appoints an administrator to handle matters related to your case. This person’s task is to follow the law and ensure your assets end up in the right hands.
Why not having a will is a mistake
Not having a will can cost a lot of money and take a lot of time from your family members who have to settle your estate. They will set aside a portion of that money to cover administrative costs instead of giving it to your family.
Dying without a will means that the state takes over your assets and oversees the process of distribution according to the law. Many times, the law does not align with your desires, which is why it is critical to have a will to ensure that your wishes are honored and your assets are protected.