What happens if you die without a will?

On Behalf of | Jan 18, 2022 | Estate Planning

A will describes how you want your property divided up after you die. With a few exceptions, you can use a will to bequeath property to anyone you choose, including family members, friends and charitable organizations.

If you have not made out a will when you die, your property still gets divided up and distributed. However, the state does not consider your wishes when dividing your property because, at least from a legal point of view, it has no way of knowing what you would have wanted.

What are the rules of intestacy?

In legal terms, to die intestate is to die without a will. According to the National Paralegal College, all states have rules of intestacy that apply to the distribution of your property if you die without a will. In all states, the rules of intestacy require the division of your estate among your next of kin.

What are the rules of intestacy in Minnesota?

According to Minnesota statutes, if married with no descendants, or if the only descendants you and your spouse have are ones that you share, your spouse inherits your entire estate if you die without a will. If your spouse has surviving descendants whom you do not share, he or she inherits the first $225,000 plus one-half of the balance of your remaining estate.

If you die unmarried with no descendants, your estate passes to your parents or, if they have predeceased you, to the descendants of your parents, e.g., your siblings. From there, the rules get into complicated if-then contingencies, such as if your parents predeceased you but your grandparents are still alive.

The rules of intestacy intend to divide your property among your next of kin in a way that is as fair as possible. However, if you want to leave property to someone other than next of kin, you need a will that states your wishes explicitly and unambiguously.