Studies are conducted periodically that attempt to put a finger on the pulse of the estate planning preparedness of adults in America. Unfortunately, they consistently find that most people do not have a last will in place.
How would your property be distributed if you were to pass away with no last will? The answer to this question is multifaceted, because there are different ways that assets can be transferred.
In this post we will look at some of the facts.
If you die without a last will or any other estate planning document, you would die intestate. Under these circumstances, property that was in your direct and sole personal possession at the time of your death would be subject to the probate process.
Ultimately, the probate court would order the distribution of the assets under the intestate succession laws of the state of North Dakota. Generally speaking, your closest relative or relatives would inherit your resources.
If you had a surviving spouse but no parents or children still living, your spouse would inherit everything. If you had children but no parents or surviving spouse, your children would inherit the entirety of your probate property.
Sometimes people die intestate and they have no living relatives. Under these circumstances, the state could absorb the probate property under escheat laws.
Asset Transfers Outside of Probate
There are some types of asset transfers that take place outside of the process of probate. If you have a payable on death account, the beneficiary that you added to the account would inherit the assets that remain in the account after you pass away. This transfer would not be subject to the probate process.
It is possible to add a co-owner to property that you own. For example, you could add your daughter to the title of your home, and she would become a joint tenant. She would immediately assume half ownership of the property, even while you are living.
After you pass away, your daughter would inherit the entirety of the property, and the probate process would not be a factor.
If you have an insurance policy on your life, the beneficiary would receive the proceeds from the insurance company after your passing. The probate court would not be involved in this exchange.
There are also a number of different types of trusts that can facilitate probate avoidance.
Schedule a Free Consultation
In this post we have provided some basic, general information. If you would like to discuss your unique personal situation with a licensed attorney, our firm can help.
We offer free consultations, and you can send us a message through this page to request an appointment: Grand Forks ND Estate Planning Attorneys.