For one reason or another, you are considering or have considered drafting a valid will in case you die unexpectedly. Before you do so, it is recommended to contact an experienced estate-planning attorney to understand what a will is, what it prescribes, and the effects it will have on your loved ones.
What Is a Valid Will?
A will is a legal document that determines how a person’s assets and property will be distributed at the time of his or her death. Wills vary in their complexity, and can determine who gets what property/assets, what percentage of those property/assets, and even what can be done with said property and assets.
In order for a will to be valid, its owner must be of sound mind when it is created. If the owner is not of sound mind, the will not be valid. The will must also be in writing and signed by the owner or by someone in the owner’s presence and at the owner’s direction. In addition, the will must be signed by two witnesses within a reasonable time after witnessing the owner’s signing or the owner’s acknowledgement of that signature or the will. Alternatively, the owner can acknowledge the will before a notary public or other individual authorized by law to take acknowledgements.
A will cannot be valid if the owner was under the influence at the time it was signed, if he or she was not of sound mind, or if he or she was coerced into signing it. To draft your will or make it valid, it is advised to contact a North Dakota estate-planning attorney.
Once a Will Has Been Made, Can It Be Changed?
As long as the owner of the will remains of sound mind, the will can be changed or revoked during the owner’s lifetime. This is allowed in order for the owner to change the will as a result of the changing circumstances or family situations. Some common circumstances that might lead to changing or revoking a will are:
- Birth of a child or family member
- Marriage or termination of marriage
- Death of a prospective heir
- Changes in relevant laws
- Gaining more assets or property
There are many different reasons one may wish to change or take back a will, but the above are the most common.
Is It Necessary to Have a Will?
If you die without a will (intestate) then the State of North Dakota will divide your assets and property up among known heirs. This is done through North Dakota intestate succession law. Property that you may have in other states will be distributed depending on the laws of those states. Personal property, no matter where it is located, will be distributed in accordance with North Dakota law.
The North Dakota probate attorneys at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Attorneys will guide you through drafting your will, changing your will, revoking your will, or determining the distribution of property and assets if a recently deceased loved one died without a will. Call 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002 today!