None of us wants to think about losing a loved one, much less what will happen after we pass away. But, like many things, it's better to think ahead when it comes to what will happen with a person's property after they die. In its simplest form, a will is a person's plan for just this scenario. And when a person dies intestate (without a will) it could be up to a court to decide who gets what.
Because wills deal with such serious topics, the North Star State has strict guidelines on who can create a will, the ways in which wills can be created, what a will can cover, and how wills are enforced. This is a quick introduction to wills laws in Minnesota.
A person's will can cover all kinds of inheritance issues, from stocks and bonds to houses and cars. States are generally free to create their own wills laws, and while Minnesota's statutes are generally similar to those in other states, it does not recognize oral or hand-written wills.
Wills Laws in Minnesota
Minnesota's wills statutes are highlighted in the following table.
MN Statutes §524, et seq.
Age of Testator
18 years or older and of sound mind
Number of Witnesses
Signed by at least two persons, each of whom signed within a reasonable time after witnessing either the signing or testator's acknowledgment of signature or of will.
Nuncupative (Oral Wills)
Some of the terminology used in Minnesota estate planning laws can sound like a foreign language and can seem confusing when we first read them. To clarify, here are some simple definitions:
- The “testator” is the person whose after-death wishes are specified in the will;
- The “estate” is the collected property of the testator;
- A “nuncupative” or oral will is one that is spoken or otherwise unwritten, and are not legally binding in Minnesota;
- A “holographic” will is a handwritten testament, which are also not legally binding in Minnesota; and
- “Probate” is the legal process that handles a person’s estate, and has procedures for those who die with or without a will.
Minnesota Wills Laws: Related Resources
The process of figuring out what happens to a person’s possessions after he or she passes away can be difficult, and creating a will, especially one that does everything the person wants it to, can be even more challenging. You can contact a Minnesota wills attorney if you would like legal assistance creating or interpreting a will, or with another estate matter. You can also find additional information and resources, including tips on creating and changing a will, in FindLaw’s Wills section.