If you have not yet made your Last Will and Testament, you may wish to consider doing so. Why? Because if you die without one, the State of Minnesota decides who gets your assets and in what proportion, regardless of what your preferences may have been. 

Smart Asset explains that this result goes by the name of intestacy, the state laws by which certain of your family members inherit from you when you die without a will. 

Immediate family 

Under the intestacy laws, who inherits what portion of your assets depends on which of your family members survive you and how many of them there are. With regard to your immediate family, distributions go as follows: 

  • If your spouse survives you but you have no surviving children, (s)he inherits your entire estate. 
  • If your spouse survives you and you and (s)he had children together who survive you, (s)he likewise inherits your entire estate and your children inherit nothing. 
  • If your spouse survives you and you and (s)he had children together who survive you, plus (s)he has children by someone other than you who survive you, (s)he inherits the first $225,000 of your estate plus half of its remainder and your surviving children (not his or hers) inherit the other half equally. 
  • If your spouse survives you and you have surviving children by someone other than him or her, (s)he likewise the first $225,000 of your estate plus half of its remainder and your surviving children inherit the other half equally. 
  • If you have no surviving spouse but have surviving children, they inherit your entire estate in equal proportions. 

Defining “children” 

For intestacy purposes, the word “children” refers to your biological or adopted children. Also, if one or more of your children predecease you but their own children, i.e., your grandchildren, survive you, then they inherit that portion of your estate that their deceased parent would have inherited had (s)he survived you.