The most common question an estate planning attorney hears is, “Do I really need a will?” As all lawyers do, we hedge our bets and say, “maybe.” Here’s why: Your particular family and financial circumstances dictate whether you should have a will or whether your wishes would be fulfilled under Minnesota’s intestate laws. These laws dictate what happens to your assets and debts when you die without a will.

The Answer to “Do I Need a Will?”

If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, then the answer to whether you need a will is also a resounding “yes.”

  • Are you married? If yes, you will want a will in place to ensure that you protect your spouse and that you do all you can to transfer property to your spouse upon your death in a way that takes advantage of tax breaks and other legal concerns.
  • Do you have children? If yes, your will is where you will identify who will take care of your children if you and your spouse die while your children are of minority age. Your will can also lay out which child gets what upon your death, and how to smartly distribute assets so your children do not burn through everything before they’re old enough to understand their financial choices.
  • Do you own real property? From your family home to rental property to your lake cabin, you want to make sure the property passes to your preferred heir.
  • Do you own a business? If you are a sole proprietor, you will need to identify what happens to your business’s assets and liabilities if you were to pass away unexpectedly.
  • Do you have any financial savings? Minnesota’s intestate laws identify which immediate relatives receive your positive net worth after you die. If you do not want the state determining where your money goes—and taking a portion of it for itself—you will want a will in place.

Other Individuals Who Would Benefit From a Will

If you are single, rent your home and have a fair amount of debt, you generally don’t need a will. With that said, you may yet benefit from creating a simple will if you meet any of these conditions:

  • You have pets.
  • You support a charity.
  • You don’t get along with your immediate relatives.

If you are uncertain as to whether you want Minnesota’s intestate laws governing where your property winds up after you die, we encourage you to reach out to an experienced estate planning lawyer. Call our Minnesota law firm today for more information: 763-241-0477.

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