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Understanding Wills in Minnesota: Your Essential Guide

Understanding Wills in Minnesota Your Essential Guide

An experienced attorney can help you navigate the complexities of creating a will in Minnesota. At Heritage Law Office, our experienced estate planning attorneys in Minnesota will thoroughly review your needs and wants when planning your estate and provide an outline of your best options. Contact us through our online form or at 414-253-8500 to schedule a free consultation today.

Importance of Creating a Will in Minnesota

A will is a crucial document that outlines your wishes for the distribution of your assets and the care of your dependents after your passing. Having a will in place can provide peace of mind and prevent potential disputes among your loved ones.

Types of Wills

In Minnesota, there are several types of wills that you can create, depending on your specific needs:

  • Simple Will: A basic will that outlines the distribution of assets and names an executor to oversee the process.
  • Joint Will: A will created by a married couple, specifying how their combined assets will be distributed.
  • Living Will: A legal document that outlines your medical preferences and end-of-life care, should you become incapacitated.
  • Testamentary Trust Will: A will that creates a trust upon your death, distributing assets to beneficiaries over time or under specific conditions.

Essential Components of a Will in Minnesota

A well-drafted will should include several key components to ensure its validity and effectiveness:


An executor is a person or entity responsible for managing your estate and ensuring that your wishes are carried out as outlined in your will. Choosing a trustworthy and experienced executor is crucial to the successful administration of your estate.


Beneficiaries are the individuals or organizations that will receive your assets upon your death. Clearly outlining your beneficiaries can prevent potential disputes and ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.


If you have minor children or dependents, it's essential to name a guardian who will be responsible for their care in the event of your passing. This decision should be made carefully, considering the individual's ability to provide a stable and loving environment for your dependents.

Specific Bequests

You may choose to leave specific assets or amounts of money to certain beneficiaries. In your will, clearly outline these bequests to prevent confusion or disputes during the probate process.

Updating Your Will in Minnesota

It's essential to review and update your will periodically, especially after significant life events such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child. Keeping your will up-to-date ensures that your wishes are accurately reflected and that your assets are distributed as intended.


Probate Process in Minnesota

When you pass away, your estate typically goes through a legal process called probate. This process ensures that your assets are distributed according to your will and that your outstanding debts are settled.

Initiating the Probate Process

The probate process begins when the executor named in your will, or a close family member if no executor is named, files a petition with the probate court in the county where you lived. This petition requests that the court appoint the executor and begin the probate process.

Inventory and Appraisal of Assets

The executor is responsible for locating and appraising all assets within your estate. This may include real estate, bank accounts, investments, and personal property. An accurate inventory and appraisal of these assets are essential for proper distribution to beneficiaries and payment of outstanding debts.

Payment of Debts and Taxes

The executor must use estate assets to pay any outstanding debts and taxes owed by the estate. This may include funeral expenses, medical bills, credit card debt, and federal and state taxes.

Distribution of Assets

Once all debts and taxes have been paid, the executor can distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will. If there are any disputes or challenges to the will, the probate court may need to resolve these issues before assets can be distributed.

Avoiding Probate in Minnesota

Probate can be a lengthy and expensive process, so many people look for ways to avoid or minimize its impact on their estates. Some common strategies for avoiding probate in Minnesota include:

  • Joint Ownership: If you own property jointly with another person, such as a spouse, that property may pass directly to the surviving owner upon your death without going through probate.
  • Payable-on-Death (POD) Accounts: Bank accounts, investment accounts, and other financial assets can be designated as POD accounts, allowing the assets to pass directly to the named beneficiary without probate.
  • Transfer-on-Death (TOD) Deeds: In Minnesota, real estate can be transferred upon the owner's death using a TOD deed, which avoids probate.
  • Revocable Living Trusts: By placing your assets in a revocable living trust, you can maintain control of your property during your lifetime and bypass probate upon your death.

Contact a Wills and Probate Attorney in Minnesota

For assistance with creating or updating a will, contact our experienced attorneys at Heritage Law Office by using the online form or calling us directly at 414-253-8500. We are committed to helping you protect your assets and ensure the well-being of your loved ones. 

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the importance of having a will in Minnesota?

A will is a crucial legal document that outlines your wishes for the distribution of your assets and care of any dependents upon your passing. This prevents potential disputes among loved ones and ensures your assets are managed as per your wishes.

2. What types of wills can be created in Minnesota?

Minnesota law allows several types of wills, including simple wills, joint wills, living wills, and testamentary trust wills. The type of will you need depends on your specific requirements and circumstances.

3. How often should I update my will?

It is advised to review and update your will periodically, especially after significant life events such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child, or a substantial change in your financial situation.

4. What is the probate process in Minnesota?

Probate is a legal process that begins after a person's death. It includes validating the will, appointing an executor, identifying and inventorying the deceased person's property, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining property as the will directs.

5. How can I avoid probate in Minnesota?

Probate can be avoided or minimized in several ways, such as through joint ownership, payable-on-death accounts, transfer-on-death deeds, and revocable living trusts. Consulting with an experienced attorney can help you explore these options.

Contact Us Today

For a comprehensive plan that will meet your needs or the needs of a loved one, contact us today. Located in Downtown Milwaukee, we serve Milwaukee County, surrounding communities, and to clients across Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and California.