The thought of stipulating which of your loved ones in St. Paul will inherit your estate may seem downright daunting. You certainly do not want to upset anyone with your decisions (thus sowing the potential for discord among your heirs). Yet it is entirely possible that even in trying to please everyone, someone still feels dissatisfied with their stake in your estate. 

These concerns might even prompt you to not prepare a will at all and instead leave it to your beneficiaries to decide how to share your estate. Unfortunately, this is not what happens when you die without creating a will. 

Intestate succession 

If you die without a will, the state classifies you as “intestate.” The state has established guidelines detailing the dispersal of intestate estates. These are in Section 524.2-102 of Minnesota’s Probate Code. Here it states that your surviving spouse would inherit your entire intestate estate if you have no lineal descendants or those that you do leave behind are also the descendants of your spouse. If you have surviving descendants that are not biologically related to your spouse (or vice-versa), then your spouse receives the first $225,000 of your estate as well as one-half of its remaining amount (with the other half going to the descendants). 

If you are not survived by a spouse, your intestate estate would pass as follows: 

  • To your descendants 
  • To your parents 
  • To your siblings 
  • To your grandparents 

If none of those parties remain, the state divides your estate equally amongst your paternal and maternal kindred. 

No allowances for nonrelatives 

You will notice that Minnesota’s intestate succession guidelines offer no allowances for anyone not directly related to you. If you wish for such a party to benefit from your estate, you must stipulate that in a will.