A Will is a vital element in an estate plan. When a Will is drafted and formalized, there are rules of construction applicable only to Will. In Minnesota, rules applicable to the construction of a valid Will can be found under Minnesota statute 524.2-601.
A person who has a Will and gives their stuff away according to a Will is called a testator. In his or her Will, a testator may outline the passage of all property the testator owns at the time of their death and all property acquired by their Estate after the testator’s death.
Generally, a valid Will in Minnesota includes an antilapse condition. This means if a gift is not expressly conditioned upon the receipt of the gift surviving the testator, or if the Will does not provide for a contingent disposition of the gift in the event the person dies before the testator, the gift will “fail” or lapse.
Also, a valid Will in Minnesota will include a choice of law provision. In other words, there is a clause in the Will that confirms the effect of a governing instrument as determined by the local laws of Minnesota unless the application of that law contradicts a provision related to the elective share of the surviving spouse.
When a person dies without a Will, their property is divided up with intestate succession. In other words, the rules governing the distribution of property will determine where and who gets to keep property owned by the testator.
When terms of a Will are ambiguous or unclear, the doctrine of practical construction is utilized by Minnesota Courts to interpret unclear provisions.