Finding out that you are entitled to an inheritance can be bittersweet. One the one hand, you will be receiving something of personal and/or monetary value. On the other hand, someone close to you may have passed away to make that inheritance possible. Once you are told that you are entitled to an inheritance, however, it is only natural to want to know when you will actually get it. To give you some idea of what to expect, the Grand Forks probate attorneys at German Law explain the factors that will help determine when you will receive your inheritance in North Dakota.
Is Your Inheritance Made Up of Probate Assets?
One of the most important factors in determining how long it will take to receive an inheritance is whether the assets that comprise that inheritance are probate or non-probate assets. As you may imagine, probate assets are required to go through the probate process whereas non-probate assets bypass probate. Because non-probate assets are not required to go through probate, they can be distributed to the beneficiary immediately after the death of the owner. Common examples of non-probate assets that you might receive as part of an inheritance include:
- Assets held in a living trust if you are a beneficiary.
- The decedent’s share of certain types of jointly owned assets.
- Proceeds of a life insurance policy if you are the beneficiary.
- Assets in which you are the beneficiary if the account is designated as “payable on death (POD)” or “transfer on death (TOD)”
- Certain retirement accounts if you are the named beneficiary.
Understanding the Probate Process
If your inheritance includes probate assets, those assets must go through the probate process before they can be distributed to the estate beneficiaries or legal heirs of the estate (if the decedent died intestate, meaning without a Will or trust). Probate is the legal process by which estate assets are identified and eventually distributed, a decedent’s Will is authenticated and litigated if contested, and creditors of the estate are paid for valid claims. The important thing to understand is that a beneficiary or heir will not receive anything from the estate until probate is complete.
How Long Will It Take to Receive Your North Dakota Inheritance?
Unfortunately, there is no sure-fire way to know in advance exactly how long it will take to receive an inheritance in North Dakota if the assets involved are required to go through probate. What is certain is that creditors have three months from the date of publication within which to file claims against the estate. The Executor must then review those claims and approve or deny them. Approved claims must be paid, including any estate taxes due from the estate before the Executor can consider transferring assets to beneficiaries of the estate.
With that in mind, even a simple, relatively modest estate will usually take at least six months to get through formal probate in North Dakota. If the estate qualifies for a small estate alternative to probate, the probate process can be much quicker, meaning you will receive your inheritance much faster.
If you want a more accurate estimate of the amount of time it will take to receive your inheritance in North Dakota, consult with a probate attorney.
Do You Have Questions about When You Will Receive a North Dakota Inheritance?
Please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you need advice or guidance relating to a North Dakota inheritance, contact the Grand Forks probate attorneys at German Law by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.
- Comprehensive Estate Planning: A Guide to Securing Your Legacy and Honoring Your Wishes - February 22, 2024
- North Dakota Guide to Avoiding Probate - February 20, 2024
- There’s No Better Way to Say “I’ll Be There for You” than with an Estate Plan - February 15, 2024