Although several states uphold oral bequests of personal property pursuant to their nuncupative exceptions to their written will requirements, North Dakota does not. Thus, a nuncupative or oral will in North Dakota is legally ineffective. If you do not have a validly created written will in North Dakota, your estate is subject to intestacy distributions. As such, the assets in your estate will pass to your heirs and beneficiaries pursuant to the state’s intestacy laws. Intestacy statutes govern lineal descent distributions for residents who die without validly created written wills.
If some state legislatures decided to allow their residents to create nuncupative or oral wills, you may be wondering why the North Dakota Legislature refused recognition. The answer lies in the Uniform Probate Code. The North Dakota Legislature adopted the Uniform Probate Code, the result of a joint drafting effort between the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section of the American Bar Association. As only one of less than a dozen states to adopt the entire Uniform Probate Code, the North Dakota Legislature specifically follows the code’s treatment of oral wills. The Uniform Probate Code does not recognize nuncupative or oral wills under any condition –- even under life-threatening illnesses or during military times of war or combat. Specifically, the North Dakota Legislature enacted the North Dakota Century Code, which states that all valid wills in North Dakota must be in writing.
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