I Caught Minnesota Per Stirpes

per stirpesMinnesota per stirpes is not a disease.  Instead, it is a rule many people use in an estate plan to divide their stuff amongst children and grandchildren.

In simple terms, this type of plan means we receive the inheritance from the person directly above us, had that person lived.

Usually, the person directly above us is our parent or grandparent.  In practice, this can be confusing for estates and loved ones to grasp.  Especially if a family has experienced a divorce.

Thus, I will  use the following chart to illustrate this process:


Per Stirpes law in Minnesota

Yes, a person can use many laws and documents to divide their property into an inheritance for specific people.  A process called “per stirpes” is one of many options a living person can use to divide their stuff.

If you are in a rush, Minnesota’s per stirpes inheritance statute can be found here: 524.2-709.

For those willing to stick it out, please allow me an opportunity to simply this Minnesota probate law and I encourage you to scroll up time-to-time and review the above graph.

When is MN Per Stirpes Easy to Understand?

If a person dies and they only have one child, this rule is easy.

Likewise, if a person dies before all of their adult children die, the per stripes rule in MN is easy too.

Unfortunately, easy is hardy the norm and I help people think through their estate in case something other than easy unfolds.

Minnesota Per Stirpes: Assumption

For this rule to make sense, lets assume:

  • You are dead,
  • Your spouse is dead,
  • And, you had three children,
  • Two of your children died before you,
  • And, you were blessed with many grandchildren.

I agree, this is drastic, but not impossible.  If a person wants to understand or change their estate plan in Minnesota, simulating the inevitable is necessary.

Minnesota Per Stirpes: My Share

Next, I encourage people to look at their stuff in terms of a percentage.  For example, all of my personal and tangible property (“stuff”) including bank accounts, house, furniture, cars, lawnmowers, computers, and a tea collection.MN Inheritance

In total, I have stuff equalling 100%.  When a person receives my property in the form of an inheritance, they are getting a “share” of my stuff

Minnesota Per Stirpes: Divide my Stuff

Here is what people do not like about per stirpes: grandchildren can receive unequal shares while being equally related.

Personally, I believe this approach is perfectly acceptable if our goal is to treat our children equally.  Again though, this approach is not for everybody.

Now, if I had three children and they outlived me, the per stirpes rule in Minnesota says they all get 33% of my stuff.  If you live to the age of 90 and you take into consideration a person’s life expectancy, this scenario is unlikely.

On the other hand, if two of my children die before me, their third (1/3 or 33% each) would get divided amongst their children (my grandchildren).  If my child does not have any children, then their 33.3% is redistributed amongst my living children.

The Per Stirpes Example Above

In my example above, my youngest child would get 33% of my stuff because they are alive.

Because My oldest child and middle child are dead, their 33% share gets divided amongst their children (my grandchildren).

This means the grandchildren of my oldest child would divide 33% of my stuff equally (or each would get half of 33%).  Because I love fractions, this equals approximately 16% or 1/6 for both of my G-O’s.

Confused by MN Per Stirpes

I know per stirpes is confusing if you do not work with inheritances on a regular basis.  If it helps, consider this.

G-M would get 1/3 or 33% of my stuff while both G-O’s would get a lesser amount of 1/6 or 16% of my stuff.

Again, some people like this idea while others do not.  What do you think?


Minnesota Per Stirpes: Final Answer

The final answer to the problem described above will not be the same for everybody.  For this reason, it is important to work through every conceivable possibility.

For those who stuck with me, our Minnesota per stirpes law would conclude the following outcome for the situation described above:

  • Both of my G-O’s would get 16% of my stuff,
  • G-M would get 33% of my stuff, and
  • G-Y’s would get nothing because my Youngest Child would receive 33% of my stuff.