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North Dakota Probate Attorney

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North Dakota , Colorado, Wyoming Service Areas

The probate process includes the management and allocation of assets and estate belongings of a deceased individual. Important probate tasks involve locating the decedent’s Last Will, if one exists, overseeing estate accounts and managing the distribution of estate assets to beneficiaries. The duration of the probate process can vary widely depending on the complexity of the estate, the presence of disputes and the efficiency of court proceedings.

The team at the Law Office of Josh Krieg is dedicated to guiding individuals through every step of the probate journey. Whether you have been entrusted as a personal representative or you’re a beneficiary seeking to secure your inheritance, our firm provides personalized legal support to assist you along your path. We’re happy to assist clients across Colorado, Wyoming, and North Dakota.

Understanding Probate: A quick overview

Probate serves as the mechanism through which a deceased person’s estate is administered and distributed. Typically, the probate process involves validating the deceased’s will, if one exists, and identifying, appraising, and managing their assets. Once the obligations are addressed, the remaining assets are distributed to the rightful heirs or beneficiaries according to the terms outlined in the will or the state’s intestacy laws if there is no will.

However, not all estates and assets are subject to the probate process. The need for probate depends on a couple of factors, specifically the type and value of estate assets. Assets held jointly with rights of survivorship or those with designated beneficiaries, such as life insurance policies or retirement accounts, typically transfer directly to the designated recipients outside of probate. Real estate, bank accounts, investments, and personal property solely owned by the deceased at the time of death, often require probate to facilitate their transfer.

It’s not uncommon for individuals to own properties in multiple states at the time of their death. When estate assets are located in multiple states, the complexities of probate are compounded, requiring careful navigation by the appointed personal representative to ensure compliance with each state’s probate laws and procedures.

Ancillary Probate: Managing Estate Assets Across Multiple States

The personal representative, appointed either by the deceased’s will or by the court, plays a pivotal role in managing the deceased person’s affairs. When the deceased owned assets across multiple states, the personal representative’s role becomes more complex. This scenario often triggers an ancillary probate proceeding.

Ancillary probate is a legal process that occurs when a decedent owns property in a state other than their primary state of residence. The primary probate process usually takes place in the decedent’s state of residence, while ancillary probate is required to address the out-of-state property. Ancillary probate involves similar steps to primary probate, including validating the will (if one exists), identifying and appraising assets, settling debts, and distributing property to beneficiaries. However, ancillary probate proceedings are governed by the laws of the state where the property is located. This process can add complexity and additional administrative burdens to the overall probate process. Let’s consider an example:

Ashley, a resident in North Dakota, owns a vacation home in Colorado. In the event of Ashley’s passing, the primary probate proceedings would take place in North Dakota, where she primarily resided. However, because Ashley also owned property in Colorado, ancillary probate would be necessary to address the property located there. Ashley’s personal representative would need to navigate both primary and ancillary probate processes to fully settle her estate.

Strategies to Avoid Ancillary Probate

In the scenario outlined above, Ashley can take proactive steps to avoid ancillary probate in Colorado. Ashley can circumvent the need for ancillary probate by crafting a thorough estate plan, involving establishing a trust and transferring her Colorado property into the trust. With a trust in place, the Colorado property becomes a part of the trust estate rather than Ashley’s individual estate, thereby avoiding the need for an ancillary probate proceeding. As part of the trust, Ashley can designate a successor trustee to manage the trust assets and distribute them according to her wishes upon her passing. By working with an experienced estate planning attorney to establish and maintain a trust, Ashley can ensure that her assets are efficiently managed and distributed to her beneficiaries without the need for ancillary probate.

Instead of creating a trust, Ashley could execute a beneficiary deed as another means to bypass the ancillary probate process for her Colorado property. By executing a beneficiary deed, Ashley can designate a beneficiary to inherit her real property upon her passing, ensuring that the property transfers directly to the designated beneficiary outside of the probate process.

For example, Ashley wants her niece, Bria to own her Colorado property upon her passing. By executing a beneficiary deed and naming Bria as the beneficiary, Ashley ensures that her Colorado property will transfer to Bria automatically upon her passing, bypassing the probate process entirely. This streamlined approach not only saves time and money but also provides certainty and peace of mind for Ashley.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

At the Law Firm of Josh Krieg, LLC, we’re dedicated to guiding you through probate and ancillary probate proceedings, providing comprehensive support to your specific needs. We also focus on comprehensive estate plans which help individuals and families proactively manage their affairs, limiting the potential need for future probate proceedings. Licensed to practice law in Colorado, Wyoming, and North Dakota, our firm offers remote services and capabilities, ensuring accessibility and convenience for clients regardless of their location. Please contact us today for a free consultation of your legal situation.

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