What is a Last Will and Testament


A North Dakota Last Will and Testament, when prepared and executed properly by a person who is an adult of sound mind with legal responsibility for his- or herself, is a formal document that specifies how their assets or estate will be managed and distributed after their death. The person who dies is formally referred to as the decedent. If the decedent has minor children, the Last Will and Testament may also be used to designate who they want to care for their children and who they wish to handle their childrenís inheritance/finances until each child comes of age (usually 18, but you can designate a different age) to handle their finances on their own.

In a Last Will and Testament, the decedent usually also names a personal representativeóor co-personal representatives (two or more persons acting together in this capacity)óto manage the matters of the estate. The personal representative is the person who gathers all of the information about the decedentís debts and assets, pays outstanding debts using the assets on behalf of the estate, and ensures that the decedentís property is distributed as specified in the Will, so this is a job with a lot of responsibility, and the personal representative selected is usually someone the decedent really trusts to follow through on the details and with his or her wishes.

If a person dies without having a valid Last Will and Testament (which usuallyóin most statesómeans it must be properly witnessed, as wellónot just signed), someone will usually be appointed by the court to be the personal representative and will pay the decedentís debts, liquidizing assets as necessary to do so. Then the remaining assets will be distributed among the decedentís heirs according to the laws of the state the decedent lived in.

In some states, if one spouse dies leaving behind a husband or wife, that living spouse will inherit all of the decedentís property in the absence of a Last Will and Testament stating to the contrary. In other cases, the decedent may have specified a particular beneficiary to inherit a life insurance policy, retirement account, or other asset, and that beneficiary designation will dictate who receives those assets in the absence of a North Dakota Last Will and Testament.

The important thing to note is that anyone who wishes to designate how their assets will be distributed after their death should prepare and properly execute a Last Will and Testament to ensure their wishes are known and honored. If they donít, they may be leaving it up to chance, the laws of the state in which they reside at the time of their death, or a court of law as to how their final affairs will be settled.  North Dakota free information on last will and testament forms.

Legal Requirements for Last Wills in North Dakota

The last Will is not a mandatory document for a North Dakota citizen. The form determines the rules of inheritance of a personís property after their death, but the state can also do this. The difference is that local laws define the general conditions of inheritance, which may not coincide with the will of the person. A testament is needed to establish these rules based on the characteristics of the composition of the family and family relations.

If the deceased for some reason did not leave a will, the closest heir under the North Dakota laws is their living spouse. They are followed by the children and parents of the deceased, who are also entitled to a share in their property. If none of the next of kin is alive, the brothers and sisters of the deceased will inherit their estate.

A person may not prepare a will if they are satisfied with this order of inheritance. After the death of a North Dakota citizen, the court establishes the rules of inheritance and the shares of their property, which are distributed among the relatives of the deceased. However, if a person wishes to appoint a specific person(s) to inherit their estate, they should consider making a will.

The Will of the Deceased in a Testament

A will allows you to establish the shares of your estate and the respective heirs. With this document, you can unequivocally distribute your property among the people you want to see as inheritors. Usually, the main content of a will concerns an apartment or house, a car, accumulated finances, and smaller pieces of property. For example, the testator can give the main part not to the spouse but to the descendants. A testament allows you to adjust the general rules of inheritance in North Dakota at your discretion.

Therefore, a will must be drawn up per the official form and include such points as the signature of the testator, the date, and a detailed explanation of the rules of inheritance of their estate. It must be prepared in writing (in print or by hand) and certified by the signatures of the witnesses. Please note that a testament must be confirmed by the local government office. Otherwise, it is not valid.

If the testator has changed their mind, they can amend the document or revoke it. All these actions must also be confirmed by the clerk.

Cases that the Last Will does not Cover

Because inheritance rights overlap with other rights and laws in North Dakota, a person cannot dispose of all of their property. Some exceptions exist independently of the will of the deceased:

  • Property that is jointly owned with the title of inheritance

  • Pension accruals received by the testator during their lifetime

  • Mandatory spouseís part, if a will does not mention them.

Distribution of these parts of the property is made under the court decision, which considers the will after the death of the testator. The court confirms the authenticity of the document and finally determines the order of inheritance of their estate.



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