Estate Planning, Collaborative Family Law & Mediation

Common Questions About Wills

What does a Will do?

A Will is a written document that, typically, accomplishes two primary things. First, it directs who will receive your “estate” after your death, Second, it provides instructions about what should happen after your death, including who should care and provide for your children or dependents.

What is an Estate?

Your estate includes furniture, jewelry, cars, bank accounts, business, property, and real estate that you own. In a Will, you can direct who is to receive a portion or all of your estate.

What is required to create a Will?

While each state may have different requirements for creating a valid will, a valid Will in Minnesota must be a written document signed by a person who is at least 18 years old and of “sound mind.” In addition, 2 witnesses must also sign the Will indicating that they witnessed the person’s signature or were present when the person making the Will acknowledged that he or she signed the Will.  An attorney can assure that the requirements to make a valid Will are strictly followed.

How long is a Will valid?

A Will remains effective until it is changed or revoked. However, it is recommended that you periodically review your Will to assure that it provides for your family as you originally planned or to take into account new or changed circumstances. If your Will does not include changes in your life that occurred after you created the Will, the Will may not accurately reflect how you would want those circumstances addressed at your death. You should consider reviewing and changing your Will when you marry or divorce, if there is a birth or death in the family, a named guardian for your children dies or is no longer available, the value or type of your property changes significantly, or you move to another state.

What happens it I die without a Will?

If you die without a Will, Minnesota law determines who receives all or a portion of your estate. Though there are exceptions in the law, the balance of your estate would usually go to your spouse, if your spouse is still alive. If your spouse died before you died or you did not have a spouse, the balance of your estate would go to your children. Generally, if you are not survived by a spouse or children, Minnesota law would distribute the balance of your estate to your parents, siblings or cousins, though it depends upon who among your legal heirs are still alive at the time of your death. If you have no surviving family and die without a Will, the balance from your estate would usually be paid to the State of Minnesota.

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