North Dakota Probate FAQ
Probate is one of those things that nearly everyone has heard of, but few are really sure what it actually is unless they have gone through the process themselves. Below, we’ve answered some of the questions we frequently get from clients who come to us with questions or issues related to probate. For more information or to discuss the specifics of your case, call our office today to schedule a consultation with an estate planning lawyer in Fargo-Moorhead.
What is Probate?
Technically, probate is the legal process of “proving” a will, but in practice, the term probate refers to the entire process of administering a decedent’s estate. Some of the things that may occur during probate include the appointment of a personal representative, locating and accounting for all of the estate’s assets, the payment of the estate’s taxes and debts, and the transfer of assets to the estate’s beneficiaries or heirs. In addition, parties with an interest in an estate can raise legal challenges during probate.
Can I Avoid Probate?
Probate can be a time-consuming and expensive process. As a result, many people wonder whether they can do anything to transfer their assets directly to beneficiaries without them having to go through probate. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the assets that need to go through probate, or in some cases, to avoid probate entirely. Some of the ways you can avoid probate include the following:
- Placing assets into a living trust
- Joint ownership of assets
- Beneficiary designations on bank accounts
Importantly, you should always have a will even if you think that you have accounted for all of your assets through other asset-transfer techniques. If you fail to have a will to account for any assets you forgot about, they will pass according to state laws regarding intestate succession, which may or may not reflect your wishes.
Do I Need a Lawyer if I am Involved in a Probate Dispute?
As mentioned above, legal challenges can arise during probate. For example, during the probate process, a beneficiary may challenge the terms of a will or argue that the will-maker was not of sound mind when the will was made. If you are involved in any probate dispute that could affect your interest in an estate, it’s critical that you retain an experienced attorney to represent your rights. Probate disputes can be extremely contentious and involve complex state laws, and the best way to ensure that your dispute is resolved as favorably as possible is to retain an experienced attorney as soon as you recognize that a dispute may arise.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Consultation with a Fargo-Moorhead Estate Planning Lawyer
Probate and other matters related to estate planning and administration can be extremely complicated and involve significant assets. If you have a question about probate or any other issues related to estate planning, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Call O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss at 701-235-8000 and 877-235-8002(toll-free) to schedule a consultation with estate planning lawyer Stephen Welle or another member of our skilled legal team.