What Happens If You Die Without a Will?

By Chris Tymchuck
Founding Attorney

A will sets out whom you would like to get your property when you pass away. It also appoints someone who will settle your estate on your behalf. While you can certainly plan your estate without a will, a will is often considered one of the most basic estate planning tools that you can use. Nonetheless, more than half of U.S. adults do not have a will in place today. So, what happens if you die without a will in Minnesota?

Dying Without a Will in Minnesota

If you pass away without a will, Minnesota, like every other state in the U.S. has “intestate laws” that will apply to your situation. These rules dictate who will receive your property if you do not indicate whom you would like to obtain your property. If you do not have any blood relatives that can receive your assets, then they will revert to the state.

Intestate Laws in Minnesota

When there is no will to dictate who should receive property, Minnesota intestate laws will govern how your assets will be distributed. Generally, the decedent’s spouse will receive all of the property in an estate, unless the decedent has children who are not also children of the spouse. In those situations, the spouse will get the first $225,000 of the estate, and then the rest will be divided between the spouse and the children.

If the decedent does not have a spouse, then his or her state will go to the children. If the person who passes also has no children, then the estate will first go to his or her parents. If they are not living, then it will pass to their descendants, which would be the decedent’s brothers and sisters. If there are no siblings, then it will go to their offspring.

In most situations, decedents will have some heir to accept the property. However, if there are no heirs under Minnesota intestate laws, your property will revert to the state. This is extremely rare.

The most valuable aspect of having a will is having a say in who receives your assets and how much they receive. If you die without a will, then Minnesota intestate laws will dictate who takes what, regardless of what your wishes may have been.

Opening Probate

Even when there is no will, you must still probate the estate. The opening process is similar regardless of whether the decedent has a will. The person who wants to act as the executor will submit a copy of the death certificate to the appropriate probate court along with an application to open the probate and a request to serve as the executor.

The Court will generally appoint that person as executor as long as no heirs object. As a rule, family members will serve as executors in situations where someone dies without a will. If you create a will, you can pick who will serve as your administrator. This is not true if you do not have a valid will.

Because you must still go through the probate process even when your loved one dies without a will, it is a good idea to involve a probate attorney to help with this process. Call our team today for more information on how we can help.


About the Author
As a Minneapolis Estate Planning and Probate attorney I help build and protect families through the adoption, estate planning, and probate processes. I also have experience working with families on issues related to their small businesses. I know how difficult it is to find time to plan for the future and I am here to help walk you through it.