In North Dakota, "estate planning" broadly refers to the process through which someone decides what is to be done with their assets after death.
The first step in any estate plan is to figure out what you truly want to be done with your assets after your death. This is a very personal decision, and you should discuss it with your family, and others who might have a direct interest in your decisions. As for truly implementing your goals, you should probably speak with a legal and/or financial professional to figure out the best way to accomplish these intentions.
In addition to decisions concerning the disposition of your property, you should decide how you want to spend your final days. For example, many people have a strong preference about whether and to what extent they'd like to be kept alive by artificial means. Whatever your choice on this matter is, you should make it clear to the people who will be positioned to make such arrangements for you, if you are unable.
A knowledgeable estate planner in North Dakota may also help you maximize the percentage of your assets that go to your chosen beneficiaries, by minimizing the impact of taxes and court fees. Moreover, preventing a will or other estate plan from being litigated in court will save your survivors an incalculable amount of time, money, and energy - and the better an estate plan is, the lower its chances of ending up in court.
Common Elements of Estates in North Dakota
Estate plans in North Dakota almost always have these features:
Will: If you've decided who you want to leave your property and money to after you die, you should make these wishes official, by writing a will. When writing a will, it's always a good idea to have the help of an attorney, since many problems can come up which might make the will much more difficult to implement, or they might even void it entirely. Common problems include ambiguities in the terms of the will (a term which is not clearly written, so it can be interpreted differently by reasonable people), as well as failure to follow the required formalities.
Power of Attorney: Sometimes, people fear that they may become incapacitated (because of injury, illness, or mental deterioration), and that they won't be able to make their own decisions. Fortunately, if you want, you can grant a family member or close friend (or someone else you absolutely trust) legal authority to make essential decisions for you, if you are ever incapacitated. This is known as "power of attorney."
Funeral Arrangements: This is a very personal judgment, and you should discuss it, in detail, with your friends or family members who are in a position to implement your wishes. Your funeral instructions should not be included only in your will, since wills are sometimes not read until days or weeks after the testator's death. By that time, it may be too late to implement the decedent's wishes with respect to funeral arrangements.
Do I Need a North Dakota Estate Planning Attorney?
Given the importance of decisions related to estate planning in North Dakota, you will probably find that having an efficient attorney to assist you will be well worth the cost, and might pay for itself in future savings.
Interesting Facts About North Dakota
North Dakota is located in the Great Plains or "High Plains" of America, near the Canadian border. The state lies in the middle of the North American Continent; in the city of Rugby, a stone marks the "Geographic Center" of North America. With its central location, North Dakota is an important center for manufacturing in the U.S., especially in the area of technology.
North Dakota's highest court of law is the North Dakota Supreme Court. The court meets in the capitol building in the city of Bismarck. North Dakota's judicial branch is somewhat atypical because there is no permanent court of appeals. Instead, the Supreme Court is empowered to establish a "Temporary Court of Appeals". This temporary court is set up for specific claims and is presided over by a three-judge panel.
Other important courts in North Dakota are the Municipal Courts and the District Courts Many district courts in North Dakota have installed Odyssey systems, which allow for electronic filing of court documents. North Dakota is well-known for its extensive body of corporation law. In 1992, the Quill v. North Dakota case clarified rules for tax requirements for out-of-state corporations. The case is frequently cited, especially in relation to new developments like online sales taxes.
Lawyers in North Dakota typically file most lawsuits through the District Court system. North Dakota lawyers are skilled at interpreting the law and assisting clients with legal remedies. Attorneys in North Dakota tailor their legal services to the specific needs of the community.