Wills and Trusts in Minnesota-A Blueprint Primer of How Wealth is Passed Down to Your Heirs

Making sure that your children or other heirs inherit what you have worked for all your life is of paramount concern for most folks.  Grandparents work hard to ensure security for their children and their children work hard to ensure security for their children and so on down the generations.


  • How Does Generational Wealth Pass Down to the Next Generation?

Wills and Trusts are legal mechanisms by which one generation passes on its accumulated assets to the younger generation.

These legal documents are constructions of what you want to have happen with what you have accumulated.  In other words, you are telling the law via your Will or Trust how your assets should be passed on to your heirs after your death.

A Will or Trust has to be drafted and signatures accomplished in a particular way to be effective and valid.  Minnesota  law requires particular language, witnesses, and notarized signatures.    An inadvertent omission in a Will or a Trust of specific requirements may invalidate the entire estate document.

  • What if You Die Without a Will or Trust?

When a person dies without a Will or Trust, then that person is said to have died “intestate.”  Minnesota then looks to a statutory  (law)  list of living relatives to decide who inherits and how much they inherit.

  • What if You Die Without a Will or Trust and You have No living Relatives?

If a person dies without a Will or Trust documenting his or her last wishes, and there are no living relatives, then the property of the deceased person belongs to the State of Minnesota.  The legal term for this process is called “escheats to the State.”

  • What if You  Write Your Own Will?  Is a Holographic Will Valid in Minnesota?

Holographic is a fifty-cent word that means handwritten.  Minnesota does not have a statue that officially recognizes handwritten Wills.  Minnesota does not have a statute that specifically prohibits a handwritten Will.  The requirements, however, for execution of a Will in Minnesota must be strictly observed.  If one element in the Will is missing, then the document is invalid.  A Will is the most important document that you will create because it transfers your wealth to the next generation.  Most folks want security in knowing that their last wishes will be honored.  Do-it-yourself efforts are admirable in home repairs, but preparing your own Will is a risky endeavor.  It is probably advisable, smart, and prudent to rely on legal advice from your Minnesota attorney when preparing estate documents.

  • Assets Passed Down by Operation of Law.

Assets pass to the next generation via legal documents like a Will or Trust. Assets may also pass down by what is called “operation of law.” The law allows folks to title property jointly with rights of survivorship.  When one person dies, then the surviving joint owner inherits the property by operation of law.  Joint tenancy usually applies to real property.

Minnesota has a Transfer on Death Deed ( TOD)  that allows the owners of real property to secure a transfer of real property to the younger generation on the death of the owners.  The property passes by operation of law.

No joint tenancy is created by creating a TOD.  The TOD may be revoked by the owners at any time.  The person or persons named in the TOD  have no rights or title to the real property until the death of the owner.   Not allowing the younger generation to have joint tenancy rights to the real property is prudent in some instances because it protects the owner from the indiscretions of a joint tenant; for example, a joint tenant who has a creditor judgment lien or a tax lien.

  • The Myth About  Probate

Probate is a word that simply means “to prove”  that a Will or Trust is valid. Folks have a misconception about probate believing that all legal estate documents are subjected to the Court’s inquiry; that there will be high costs of Court and attorney involvement; and, that the Court will control a deceased person’s estate. There are different levels of “proving” a Will.  Depending upon the Will, a simple estate can be resolved by filing the Will and an affidavit transferring the assets without an attorney and without significant cost.

Minnesota has an informal probate and a summary assignment probate.  Both probates are accomplished through simple forms and affidavits upon Court approval.

About Kate Willmore, Esq.

Kate Willmore, Saint Cloud, Minnesota, divorce, custody and family attorney brings over 25 years experience to every client's legal matter. *** Licensed in Minnesota and in California

2 Responses to “Wills and Trusts in Minnesota-A Blueprint Primer of How Wealth is Passed Down to Your Heirs”

  1. Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed reading it, you are a great author.I will remember to bookmark your blog and may come back later in life. I want to encourage you continue your great writing, have a nice evening!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: