No one likes to think about their own mortality, but planning for the future is an essential part of responsible adulthood. This includes estate planning, which involves making decisions about what will happen to your assets and property after you pass away. One key element of estate planning is creating a will, which specifies your wishes regarding the distribution of your estate.
However, if you die without a will in Minnesota, distributing your assets can become more complicated, time-consuming, and expensive. In this article, we’ll explore what could happen if you die without a will in Minnesota and why it’s crucial to consult with a probate attorney or estate planning attorney to ensure that your wishes are carried out.
Intestate Succession Laws in Minnesota
When someone dies without a will, they are said to have died “intestate.” In Minnesota, intestate succession laws determine how the deceased person’s assets will be distributed. These laws prioritize surviving spouses and descendants, with more distant relatives only inheriting if no closer relatives survive.
For example, if you are married with no children and die without a will, your surviving spouse will inherit all of your assets, or the first $150,000 of your assets plus half of the remaining assets if you have one child. If you have two or more children, your surviving spouse will inherit the first $225,000 of your assets plus one-third of the remaining assets, with the rest divided equally among your children. If you have no surviving spouse or children, your assets will be distributed to your parents, siblings, or more distant relatives, depending on who is still alive.
While these rules may seem straightforward, they can lead to disputes and unintended consequences. For example, if you are in a blended family and have children from a previous marriage, your assets may not go where you intended. Similarly, if you have a partner to whom you are not legally married, they will not inherit any of your assets under Minnesota’s intestate succession laws. To avoid these kinds of problems, it’s essential to work with an estate planning attorney to create a will that reflects your wishes.
Probate Process Without a Will
When you die without a will, the probate process can be more complicated and time-consuming. Probate is the legal process of transferring ownership of your assets to your heirs after you pass away. If you have a will, the probate process typically involves validating the will and distributing the assets according to its provisions. However, if you die without a will, the probate court will appoint an administrator to handle your estate. This administrator may be a family member or a professional appointed by the court.
The administrator will be responsible for identifying and inventorying your assets, paying any outstanding debts or taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to your heirs according to Minnesota’s intestate succession laws. This process can take months or even years, especially if there are disputes or complications. The process can also be expensive, with legal and administrative fees reducing the size of your estate.
The Importance of a Probate Attorney
Working with an experienced attorney can help untangle the complications associated with the probate process. A probate attorney can help guide the administrator through the process and ensure that all legal requirements are met. In some cases, a probate attorney may also be able to help the administrator avoid probate altogether. This can be done through techniques such as setting up trusts or transferring assets to beneficiaries outside of probate. By avoiding probate, your heirs can receive their inheritance more quickly, and your estate can avoid the costs and delays associated with the probate process.
The Importance of an Estate Planning Attorney
While a probate attorney can help your administrator navigate the probate process if you die without a will, the best way to ensure that your wishes are carried out while you’re alive is to work with an estate planning attorney to create a will. An estate planning attorney can help you identify and prioritize your goals, understand the legal requirements of making a will in Minnesota, and ensure that your wishes are reflected in your estate plan.
An estate planning attorney can help you anticipate and address any potential complications, such as blended families, second marriages, or charitable giving. They can also help you explore additional estate planning tools, such as trusts or powers of attorney, that can help you protect your assets and ensure that your wishes are carried out even if you become incapacitated.
Creating a will with the help of an estate planning attorney may seem daunting, but it can provide peace of mind and ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. It can also help minimize the burden on your loved ones after you pass away, as they will have a clear plan to follow.
Call Waldron Law Offices, Ltd.
At Waldron Law Offices, Ltd., you will find an empathetic and feelings-driven experience. We can help provide a clear path to passing your assets onto your loved ones. We can also help the bereaved navigate the probate process after a beloved family member passes away. Call today at (952) 471-0940.