It is important that individuals follow some cautionary advice when making their estate plans. The importance of this planning was recently highlighted in a case involving the musician Prince. After Prince died in 2016 without a will and much litigation occurred regarding how his estate should be divided, a judge in a Minnesota court ruled that Prince’s estate will be divided among Prince’s half-sister and five half-siblings. In order to ensure proper estate planning, it is essential for individuals in North Dakota to contact a skilled attorney who can help.
What Happens if a Person Dies Without a Will?
If a person in the state of North Dakota dies without a will, his or her estate will be divided in one of several ways based on established North Dakota law.
- Rules for Children: If no parents exist, children will inherit everything after a person dies. If a spouse and child from a relationship with that spouse both survive, the spouse will inherit everything.
- Rules for Children and Spouses: If a person’s spouse and children from that person and another individual who is not the spouse survive, the spouse will inherit the first $150,000 of the property in addition to half the remaining balance while the descendants will inherit everything else. If a spouse and children from the deceased person along with children from the spouse and a different person survive, the spouse will inherit the first $225,000 of the deceased person’s property in addition to half the balance of the deceased person’s estate while the deceased person’s children will inherit everything else.
- Rules for Parents: If a person’s spouse survives but that spouse does not have any descendants or spouses, the parents will inherit everything from that individual.
- Rules if Parents and Spouses Survive: If both a person’s parents and spouse survive, the parents will inherit the amount left over after the spouse takes $300,000 of the assets and three quarters of the remaining amount.
- Rules for Siblings: If a person’s siblings survive but that person does not have any surviving descendants, parents, or spouses, the siblings will inherit all of the assets from that individual. Minnesota has similar intestacy laws to the state of North Dakota. In the case of Prince, this type of intestacy law decides how Prince’s estate would be divided.
- Rules for Spouses: If a spouse survives but the deceased individual has no descendants or parents, the spouse will inherit everything. If both a person’s spouse and child that a person had with that spouse survive, the spouse will inherit everything.
Tips for Estate Planning
There are some important steps that individuals should follow when estate planning, which include the following:
- Consider all of the available end of life tools including advanced medical directives, financial powers of attorney, trusts, and wills.
- Create a will to clearly state your intentions.
- Make sure that any estate planning tool takes estate taxes into consideration.
- Store estate planning documents in a place that can easily be accessed by others in the event of your death.
Consult with a Skilled North Dakota Attorney
To obtain assistance with estate planning, it is often essential to contact a knowledgeable property law attorney. Attorney Stephen Welle at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss can help you achieve your estate planning goals. Call Steve at 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002.