I will take the high road and presume that you are. Good for you. Minnesota ranks in the top half of states (#20) being the most charitable based upon tax return charitable contributions (2010 data).
Some folks are generous in life and others, many others, are generous in death. Being on the receiving end of someone’s Will or Trust certainly gives one a “Mr. Clean” smile. Why do you think those colleges and universities keep sending you requests to consider their school in your estate giving plan? Annually, Americans give such schools and the foundations that support them, over $33.8 billion (2013). Now that’s generous!
But let’s bring this back down to Earth. Would you be willing to donate your hard-earned, unremarkable estate to the State of Minnesota? You know their annual budget alone is $35 billion. I’m sure they would really appreciate your modest estate of a house, a couple cars, and a retirement account that maybe could get you through five or six years. Let’s say after debts you have about $333,000 left to be generous with after you die. That could keep the state running for about … wait for it … here it is … no lie … five minutes. I’m sure the State would so appreciate your ‘generous’ gift.
So, you wouldn’t intentionally do this, right? Of course not. But what about unintentionally? How could this happen, you say? By not having a clear, properly executed, written estate plan and by having no identifiable heirs to inherit. The State mops up what is left of your estate and, if they could find an heir to thank, before they could type up a letter stating “The State of Minnesota would like to thank (Mr. or Ms. Nobody) for their generous contribution to the …” the money will be spent.
So, get a Will done, ok? Or a Trust if you like confidentiality or estate matters going more smoothly for loved ones left behind. Actually just talk to an estate planning lawyer period. Many offer free or discounted consultations. If anything, at least you can make it clear that you don’t want annoying nephew Scrooge getting one penny of your $100,000 estate (too bad you didn’t live longer to see your nephew’s remarkable turnaround).
You can have the last word and still be remembered as “Mr. or Ms. Somebody”.