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Should you consider antemortem (pre-death) probate?

On Behalf of | Mar 3, 2024 | Estate Planning And Probate

One thing some people dread as they draft their will is that it will be challenged after their death. Families have been known to battle each other in court for any number of reasons. 

Some believe a decedent neglected to give them an adequate inheritance. They may have been promised something that’s not reflected in the will. They may believe the deceased didn’t have the cognitive faculties (testamentary capacity) to legally put a will in place. Often, they accuse another family member, caregiver or someone else in their loved one’s life of exerting “undue influence” on them to revise their will or other documents to give them assets and/or authority over the administration of their estate.

North Dakota allows antemortem (“pre-death”) probate. That means the testator (the person who creates a will) submits the will to a probate court while they’re still alive. Further, anyone who contests it can do so at this time. Under North Dakota law, “Any beneficiary named in the will and all the testator’s present intestate successors shall be named parties to the proceeding.”

Why do some people choose antemortem probate?

People choose antemortem probate for a variety of reasons. One is to avoid will contests after they’re gone. That’s because heirs and other beneficiaries (or those who think they should be beneficiaries) have a chance to contest the will while the testator is still around to speak for themselves about their decisions and show that they have full understanding of those decisions. 

Antemortem probate also allows testators to ensure that the will is legally valid while they’re still around. This way, they can make any necessary changes and avoid confusion and probate issues for their loved ones. Of course, if a person has experienced estate planning guidance in creating their will, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Certainly, antemortem probate isn’t for everyone. It’s not something you’d want to do when you’re still relatively young and healthy because you’ll likely need to make some modifications in the years to come. However, if it’s something you’d like to explore – either for yourself or a loved one – it’s wise to learn more about it.

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