Checklist for a Last Will and Testament in North DakotaCreating a last will and testament is a critical step for ensuring that you leave your affairs in order upon your death. The will forms the foundation of estate planning by permitting you, the testator to provide for the needs of your children, spouse and loved ones after your demise. Having seen too many cases where families are estranged because of asset distribution following the death of a loved one, you wouldn't want the same to happen to your family too, right? Is that no reason enough? What if we told you that you could use the will to share your assets with that charitable organization close to your heart or that you could use a will to create a trust that protects your assets or large estate from tax issues? Or that you could appoint a non-parent to take on guardianship for your minor kids after your demise, especially if the other parent is unavailable? Sounds like something you'd like to do, right? Well, a last will and testament crafted right will protect your interests; however, you like.
Difference between a last will and a living willUnlike the last will which is executable after your demise, a living will is executable while you are alive but incapacitated. Often, the living will is referred to as the advance healthcare directives, and it communicates the wishes of the creator regarding health care when the principal is unable to make sound decisions because of mental or physical incapacitation. The last will is executable after the living will.
Is it too early to create a will?According to the state laws under section 30.1-08-01 et Seq. of the law, you can create a will as long as you are 18 years older. And even though the document is legally binding, you can amend it later. So, as you grow your estate, you could make all the appropriate changes as time passes. You could also change your list of heirs with time – some of the original heirs may pass away and others born. All you need to change the will is a codicil, a legally recognized amendment that will ensure the legitimacy and validity of the will after an amendment. All you need to do is to ensure that the amendment takes place as per the outline executed in the original will. Note that a codicil will revoke the original will in part of as a whole.
The checklist of a valid last will and testamentWhile you could easily turn to an estate planning lawyer to help you get your affairs in order, we recommend getting a free North Dakota last will and testament form online then fill it out. The last will form has different sections which you need to fill out for the validity. While the state accepts written wills all the time, it doesn’t recognize oral wills. On the bright side, if you have a handwritten will and it can be proven that the handwriting used on the whole will is yours, then the state will accept the will.
- As mentioned above, you have to be an adult as per the state standards when creating the will. You also have to be of sound mind, and you should sign the will with at least two adult witnesses present. An alternative to the two witnesses is the notary public. Note that you can either sign the will in person or ask someone else to sign it on your behalf but under your directions and in your presence.
- Choose beneficiaries
- These are the people you will leave your estate with. They should matter. Above all, you must be specific about who gets what. So, percentages, dollar values, and naming specific objects are critical.
- Appoint an executor/ personal representative
- This is the person you appoint to take care of business in your absence. You should, therefore, trust them with your estate and the affairs of your loved ones. Some of the roles of the executor include overseeing the estate, filing the will with the probate, pay dues, bills or taxes, and finally to distribute your estate as per your wishes. You should appoint a successor too.
- Note: if your estate is worth less than $50,000, a simpler probate procedure is put in place.
- Name a guardian for your minor kids or any dependent adults.
What happens if you die without a will?
- A free last will and testament in North Dakota assures you that your wishes are respected. But in the absence of the will, you leave your loved one with one option – seeking legal help from the court. The state will institute intestacy laws upon your demise where it regards you the decedent and your estate intestate.
- Without surviving kids, the spouse inherits the entire estate, unless your or your spouse has kids from other relationships.
- If you leave behind a spouse but no kids, your parents will be entitled to a part of your estate.
- Without any surviving parents, kids or a spouse, you next close relatives, siblings, and grandparents inherit the estate.