Making a Will in North Dakota
How to make a will in North Dakota, and what can happen if you don't.
What can I do with a North Dakota will?
A will, also called a "last will and testament," can help you protect your family and your property. You can use a will to:
- leave your property to people or organizations
- name a personal guardian to care for your minor children
- name a trusted person to manage property you leave to minor children, and
- name a personal representative, the person who makes sure that the terms of your will are carried out.
What happens if I die with out a will?
In North Dakota, if you die without a will, your property will be distributed according to state "intestacy" laws. North Dakota's intestacy law gives your property to your closest relatives, beginning with your spouse and children. If you have neither a spouse nor children, your grandchildren or your parents will get your property. This list continues with increasingly distant relatives, including siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and your spouse's relatives. If the court exhausts this list to find that you have no living relatives by blood or marriage, the state will take your property.
Do I need a lawyer to make a will in North Dakota?
No. You can make your own will in North Dakota, using Nolo's do-it-yourself will software or online will programs. However, you may want to consult a lawyer in some situations. For example, if you think that your will might be contested or if you want to disinherit your spouse, you should talk with an attorney. Nolo's will-making products tell you when it's wise to seek a lawyer's advice.
What are the requirements for signing a will in North Dakota?
To finalize your will in North Dakota:
- you must sign your will in front of two witnesses, and
- your witnesses must sign your will.
Do I need to have my will notarized?
No, in North Dakota, you do not need to notarize your will to make it legal.
However, North Dakota allows you to make your will "self-proving," and you'll need to go to a notary if you want to do that. A self-proving will speeds up probate because the court can accept the will without contacting the witnesses who signed it.
To make your will self-proving, you and your witnesses must sign an affidavit (sworn statement) in front of a notary public. The witnesses' statement says that they knew you were signing your will and that you appeared to be of sound mind and signing voluntarily.
Should I use my will to name a personal representative?
Yes. In North Dakota, you can use your will to name a personal representative, who will ensure that the provisions in your will are carried out after your death. Nolo's will software and online will produce a letter to your personal representative that generally explains what the job requires. If you don't name a personal representative, the probate court will appoint someone to take on the job of winding up your estate.