There are at least 12 reasons why Minnesotans need a Will.
Reason #1: Keep control. The Minnesota Legislature has established a plan in state law for what happens to your assets if you do not have a Will. That plan may be contrary to your wishes, and may not be the best for your family. You are in control if you create a Will.
Reason #2: Appoint a legal guardian for your children. If you and your spouse die while your children are under age 18, the State of Minnesota will select a guardian for them, and you may not like the state’s choice. A Will enables you to nominate a guardian for your minor children.
Reason #3: Provide for your step-children, friends, charities or others. Only your surviving spouse, your biological children, and your adopted children are eligible to inherit from you if you don’t have a Will. If you wish to provide for your step-children, friends, charities or others, you must use a Will to do so.
Reason #4: Provide fairness even when you are married, without children. When you don’t have any children, you may think that you don’t care what happens to your assets after you die. Not so fast! If you want to provide for anyone other than a surviving spouse, you’ll need a Will. Note also that if your surviving spouse also dies without a Will, then what’s left of your combined assets will be inherited only by the surviving spouse’s relatives, with nothing set aside for your relatives.
Reason #5: Account for past gifts. The Minnesota statutes that provide for the transfer of your assets when you don’t have a Will do not take into account your history of giving. For example, the statutes that provide that your descendants inherit equally don’t recognize that you may have already paid to put your oldest children through college whereas the younger children have yet to attend college.
Reason #6: Avoid struggles over keepsakes. Without a Will, it may be difficult to ensure that the family keepsake that you want to go to your daughter, Susie, actually gets to her. With a Will, Minnesota law allows you to add a “separate writing” to your Will directing who is to receive each family keepsake that you list. Without a Will, your possessions may need to be sold so that the money from your personal property can be readily equally divided.
Reason #7: Preserve the family business. Similarly, without a Will, it may be difficult to ensure that the family business goes to the one child that you have been grooming to take it over. A Will could direct that your business interests go to that specific child. However, without a Will, your business may need to be sold so that the money from your business can be equally divided among your heirs.
Reason #8: Delay transfer of 18-year-old’s inheritance until age 21. Without a Will, even children as young as age 18 are entitled to their full inheritance in Minnesota as soon as your estate can be settled. With a Will, you can at least provide that their inheritance be held, until age 21, by a custodian under the Minnesota Uniform Transfers to Minors Act.
Reason #9: Avoid conservatorship for minors. Without a Will, if you have any children under age 18 (i.e. minors) at your death, a court-supervised conservatorship may be necessary to manage the minor’s financial assets. A conservatorship tends to be expensive, and intrusive, given the Court’s oversight.
Reason #10: Omit a particular heir. With a Will, you can exclude a child or other person who would otherwise be considered your heir under Minnesota law.
Reason #11: Hand-pick your personal representative. Without a Will, the State of Minnesota sets up a priority of choices for appointment as the personal representative, and you may not like that list.
Reason #12: Help keep peace in the family. Without a Will, your intentions as to the transfer of your assets may not be clear. When family members know your intent via your Will, fewer arguments are likely.
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