Creating a Minnesota Will is an important step in planning the distribution of your estate (assets including real and personal property) following your death. A will allows for any children, your spouse, other family members, and pets to be provided for after your death. LegalZoom works with the testator (or the person making the will) in creating a valid Minnesota wills and in assigning a person (called the executor in most states) to administer a Minnesota last will and testament after the death of the testator.
Basic Requirements of a Minnesota Last Will and Testament:
Age: The testator must be at least 18 years of age
Capacity: The testator must be of sound (capable of reasoning and making decisions) mind.
Signature: A Minnesota Last Will and Testament must be signed by the testator, or by another person under the testator's direction and presence. A court representative, called a conservator, may also sign the will for the testator under a court order.
Witnesses: At least two witnesses must sign the will, each of whom witnessed either the signing or the testator's acknowledgment of the signature or of the will.
Writing: A Minnesota Last Will and Testament must be in writing to be valid.
Beneficiaries: A Minnesota Last Will and Testament may make a disposition of property to any person.
Distribution of Property:
A will is a legal document created by you to determine how your property, known as your estate, is distributed after your death. Your estate consists of assets and property including bank accounts, homes, land, furniture, automobiles, and securities (stocks and bonds). In general, Minnesota laws allow you to dispose of your property as you wish.
Other Purposes of Wills:
Our Minnesota wills form may be used to designate a guardian for any minor children.
Our Minnesota wills form may be used to name an executor (also called a personal representative or administrator) to handle a testator's property and affairs from the time of death until the estate is settled.
Our Minnesota wills form may also be used to pass on property to a charity.
Notable exceptions to the ability to distribute property:
Property owned in joint tenancy with a right of survivorship automatically passes onto the surviving owner.
A beneficiary in a life insurance policy may not be changed through a will.
If a spouse is excluded from the will, the surviving spouse may take a portion of the estate within a certain period of time as allowed by Minnesota laws.
Providing for Pets
Minnesota law currently does not have specific statutes pertaining to providing care for pets. However, the testator may specify a beneficiary as the new owner of a pet. Legalzoom's Minnesota wills form gives you the choice of providing for your pets in this manner.
Changing and Revoking
Changing a Will
A Minnesota will and testament may be changed whenever the testator desires.
A Minnesota will and testament can also be changed through a codicil, which is a document stating additions or changes to the original will. Codicils must be executed in accordance with Minnesota laws.
Revoking a Will
A Minnesota will and testament, or any part thereof, is revoked:
1) by executing a subsequent will that revokes the previous will or part expressly or by inconsistency; or
2) by performing a revocatory act (includes burning, tearing, canceling, obliterating, or destroying the will or any part of it) on the will, if the testator performed the act with the intent and for the purpose of revoking the will or part, or if another individual performed the act in the testator's conscious presence and by the testator's direction.
Probate and Estate Taxes
After the testator has died, probate procedures prove the validity of the Minnesota last will, pay off debts and taxes of the estate, appoint a personal representative to administrate the will, and distribute property as designated in the Minnesota last will.
In Minnesota, probate proceedings may either be informal or formal. Informal probate bypasses the court after the will is determined to be valid. Formal testamentary proceedings are usually enacted when there is a dispute regarding the will. The court in formal probate proceedings will hear testimony from the disputing parties. Minnesota laws also allow for supervised administration of the will, where the court will oversee the distribution of property as defined in the Minnesota last will.
Minnesota laws require an estate tax for decedents who were residents of the state or owned real property in the state if the estate is valued at certain minimum levels. If the value of the estate exceeds these levels, Minnesota Form M706 should be filed.
It is extremely important to make a Minnesota will if you want to control the distribution of your estate. If you die without a valid will, you are said to have died "intestate" and your property will be distributed according to strict Minnesota laws.
The estate passed in intestacy includes the value of the decedent's probate estate, reduced by funeral and administration expenses, the homestead, family allowances and exemptions, liens, mortgages, and enforceable claims.
For example, if you die leaving a spouse and no descendants, then your spouse receives the entire estate. Even if you leave a spouse, but the descendants are also descendants of your spouse, then your spouse will still receive the entire estate. If you leave no spouse, but have children, then the children will share the estate in equal amounts.
If you make a Minnesota will, your valid will prevents the laws of intestacy from deciding the distribution of your estate.