When a family member or loved one passes away, the legal process that follows is referred to as “probate.” Several important things occur during probate, any one of which might directly impact you. As such, you might need information about the probate of an estate. For specific questions or concerns about the probate of an estate it is always best to consult with a probate attorney. For general information, however, a Grand Forks attorney at German Law explains how to find information about the probate of an estate in North Dakota.
Probate is the name given to the legal process that facilitates the administration of the estate of a decedent. Although the ultimate goal of probate is to pass down assets owned by the decedent to beneficiaries or heirs, that is not all that is accomplished during the probate of an estate. Assets must initially be inventoried and valued, and creditors of the estate will be given the opportunity to file claims against the estate. If the decedent left behind a Last Will and Testament, that Will is submitted to the court for authentication. If anyone challenges the validity of the Will, that issue must be fully litigated as well before probate can proceed. Only after all approved debts have been paid, including state and/or federal gift and estate taxes, and any litigation resolved can the remaining assets be distributed to the beneficiaries and/or heirs of the estate.
Can Anyone Access Probate Information?
One of the many reasons why people often choose to distribute the majority of their estate assets via a trust instead of a Will is because probate is a very public process. Assets held in a trust do not go through probate after the death of the Trustor (creator of the trust). Instead, they can be distributed immediately after the Trustor’s death if the trust terms allow. As such, a trust agreement does not become a matter of public record. Conversely, a Will must be submitted to the appropriate court to initiate the probate process. As soon as the Will is submitted it does become a matter of public record and, generally, everything that occurs during the probate process that follows is also a matter of public record.
How Do I Find Probate Information in North Dakota?
If you are a beneficiary named in the Will and/or a legal heir (meaning you would inherit from the estate under the North Dakota intestate succession laws), you should be notified by the Executor or Personal Representative of the estate that probate has been initiated. Nevertheless, you can access information about the probate of an estate relatively easily.
To access general information about a probate case, navigate to the State of North Dakota Courts Case Records Search website. There, you can search for the case using the decedent’s name. This will provide you with information such as the date when probate commenced, and any recent pleadings filed or activity in the case. If you want more detailed information, you will need to contact the appropriate court directly. The North Dakota Courts website provides contact information for all court locations throughout the state. Keep in mind when contacting the court while the court staff may provide you with relevant information and/or generic instructions, the law prohibits them from giving out legal advice. If you need advice about a probate case in North Dakota, contact a probate attorney.
Do You Need More Information about a North Dakota Probate Case?
Please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you need additional information about a North Dakota probate case, contact the Grand Forks probate attorneys at German Law by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.
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