You have probably watched a movie at some point where the poor, destitute main character is suddenly approached by a mysterious stranger informing her that she is the sole beneficiary of a sizeable inheritance following the death of a distant relative. In real life, that is not typically how you are notified that you have inherited from an estate. The Grand Forks estate planning attorneys at German Law explain how you can find out if you have an inheritance in North Dakota.
Ways for an Inheritance to Be Passed Down
One of the primary reasons for creating an estate plan is for the creator to control who inherits from his/her estate and to control how inherited assets are passed down to the beneficiaries. As such, there are a myriad of ways for an inheritance to be passed down, meaning there are also several ways to find out if you have an inheritance in North Dakota.
An inheritance can be passed down in a Last Will and Testament if the Testator named you as a beneficiary. Likewise, you could inherit assets if the creator of a trust agreement named you as a beneficiary. If a decedent died intestate (without a Will or trust to dictate how the estate should be handled), you might be entitled to inherit through the North Dakota intestate succession laws if you are a legal heir of the decedent. Finally, you could inherit assets if you are a co-owner of property, a designated beneficiary on a financial account or retirement plan, or the beneficiary of a life insurance policy.
How to Find Out You Were Left an Inheritance in a Will in North Dakota
If you were named as a beneficiary in a decedent’s Will, the Executor of the estate is required to notify you that the estate is being probated and that you are a beneficiary. This should occur shortly after the Will is admitted to probate. If you have reason to believe that you were not properly notified, you can conduct a search of all North Dakota probate courts by navigating to the court’s website. A Last Will and Testament becomes a matter of public record when the Will is admitted to probate, meaning anyone can view the Will.
How Will I Know If I Received an Inheritance in a Trust?
Because a trust can be activated during the lifetime of the Trustor or after death, beneficiaries may not be notified until after the Trustor’s death. If the trust is a living trust, however, and you are named as a beneficiary, the Trustee should notify you early on during the administration of the trust. This applies even if you are a future beneficiary (meaning you are not entitled to distributions until some time in the future). As a trust beneficiary, you have a right to know what your legal interests are in the trust assets and how those assets are being managed. A living trust, however, does not go through probate, making it more difficult to locate unless you know who the Trustee is.
How Do I Find Other Inherited Assets in North Dakota?
If you inherited money or other assets by means other than a Will or trust, the law typically requires the administrator (or person managing the asset) to make an effort to locate and notify the beneficiary. If a beneficiary cannot be located, the money or assets may be turned over the State of North Dakota for safekeeping. You can check the North Dakota Unclaimed Property website to find out if you have an unclaimed inheritance being held by the state.
Contact Fargo Estate Planning Attorneys
Please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about how to find out if you have an inheritance in North Dakota, contact the Grand Forks estate planning attorneys at German Law by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.
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