Not everyone who dies in North Dakota has beneficiaries and an executor or personal representative who lived in the state with them. People relocate for work and relationships all the time.
Whatever the circumstances, out-of-state probate administration can often prove challenging for a personal representative trying to settle someone’s affairs. What issues can be harder for someone to address if they don’t live in North Dakota?
Trying to secure physical property
One of the first and most important responsibilities of the person serving as executor is that they need to locate and secure the estate assets so that they can later distribute them as necessary to beneficiaries of the estate and also to creditors. Those that do not live in North Dakota will either need to arrange to travel or they will need to hire someone to physically locate, secure and possibly even transport the property that belonged to the decedent.
Appearing in probate court
Sometimes, the personal representative of an estate will only need to appear in court for a few hearings because there were very thorough estate planning documents already in place and minimal challenges in the process. Even if someone would only need to be present in court two or three times, repeatedly traveling to North Dakota to attend those hearings could quickly become cost prohibitive.
Understanding state-level differences in law
Estate law is slightly different in every state, and individuals tend to be most familiar with the rules where they live. Someone might reach an inaccurate understanding of what to expect from the probate process because of what occurs where they currently live. They might make mistakes with the paperwork that they file or the timing with which they handle certain responsibilities because they have an inaccurate understanding of what the process requires.
Many people who suddenly find themselves responsible for the estate of an individual who died in North Dakota while they live elsewhere will choose to hire an in-state attorney to help them throughout the probate process. A lawyer from North Dakota understands the law, has connections to local professionals and can even appear in court on behalf of the representative of the estate, thereby minimizing their need for travel.
Recognizing that there may be some unique challenges involved in estate administration while living elsewhere – and that seeking legal guidance can help – can benefit those who want to help fulfill the last wishes of a loved one who recently died.