7th Jun 2017
When an individual dies without a Will or other testamentary disposition, one of the difficulties faced by family members is determining the proper recipient of the decedent’s property. Such property is referred to as the “intestate estate,” and it is distributed in accordance with Minnesota’s intestate succession statutes. Generally, the entire intestate estate will be distributed to the decedent’s surviving spouse if (a) there are no surviving children of the decedent or (b) all of the surviving children of the decedent are also the children of the surviving spouse (and there are no other descendants of the surviving spouse). If the decedent left a surviving child from a prior relationship, the surviving spouse receives the first $225,000.00 of the intestate estate, plus one-half of any balance of the intestate estate.
Distribution of the intestate estate becomes increasingly complicated if there is no surviving spouse of the decedent. In such case, the intestate estate would pass to the decedent’s surviving descendants. If there are no surviving descendants of the decedent, the intestate estate would pass to the decedent’s parents. The intestate estate would pass to the descendants of the decedent’s parents if neither of the decedent’s parents survive the decedent.
Although each potential variation of intestate succession has not been described within this Blog, it should be evident that the absence of a Will can lead to complications in the distribution of a decedent’s property. More importantly, the intestate succession provided by statute may not reflect the wishes or intentions of the decedent. For these reasons, it is often recommended that individuals engage in estate planning.