After someone passes, they typically leave behind an estate that needs to be taken care of. Whether the individual had multiple properties, collectibles, or other items, they will have to be divided in some way. This is why it is crucial to have a will in place for an estate. However, most people put off writing their will, because it acts as a reminder that we will no longer be here one day or we don’t think we have that many assets or properties that would need a will. However, not having a will in place impacts family members, as they have to figure out how to manage the estate.
Circling Eagle Law is here to explain why a will is so important. Furthermore, we can provide insight into the estate planning and will creation process for Native Americans and Tribe members.
What Is a Will?
Essentially, a will is a document that delegates how your assets and estate will be distributed after you pass. While some may believe that a will is set in place once you create it, you can actually change the document up until death. This means that if you decide you want to adjust specific plans, you have the ability to do so as many times as you wish.
It is important to be as specific as possible in a will, as that can reduce potential disputes about the distribution of your estate. Furthermore, this will make the process easier for your family members and loved ones.
What About Tribal Wills?
Tribal members or individuals that have trust assets, including non-trust properties that are located within the boundaries of a Reservation, also need to keep in mind how their will and probate differs from State proceedings. For example, there are restrictions as to who may inherit trust properties and consider an eligible heir, which is not the case in State probate proceedings and with non-trust properties. Similarly, trust assets will have their probate conducted through the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the other in state court. As mentioned in previous blogs, individuals also have to name an eligible heir for their estate property. With all of these specific guidelines in place, it is crucial for Tribe members or individuals with trust assets to have comprehensive legal representation with knowledge of the stipulations and rules for Tribal courts.
North Dakota Guidelines
In order to have a valid will in North Dakota, you must be an adult and mentally stable. The document will need to be signed in front of two witnesses, and those witnesses will need to sign in front of a notary public. During the will process, it is important to also consider naming a personal representative. This person will ensure that your wishes are carried out accordingly.
The Importance of Having a Will In Place
Now that the basics of a will are covered, we will explain the positives of having one in place.
Control Over Your Estate
A will provides you with control over your estate and any items that carry sentimental value. For example, maybe there is an heirloom that has been in your family for generations. You want to ensure that this item ends up in the right hands so that it can continue to be passed among other members of your family. If you have property, you can delegate who will take ownership of it, or divide its monetary value among family members as well.
Protect Your Children
If you are a parent, having a will in place will allow you to name who will assume care and responsibility for your children. Having conversations like this early on will provide your family with a sense of security in knowing that they have caretakers in the event something does happen. This can help them avoid ending up in the care of someone that you do not agree with.
Provide Care For Pets
Sometimes pets are left behind after passing. Much like your children, you can actually name a beneficiary to take over care of your pet. Before putting them in your will, make sure that you ask if they are able to provide your pet with the care that they require.
Less Arguing For Loved Ones
Don’t leave your family and loved ones behind to make all of the decisions about your estate. This will often lead to serious disagreements about what decision is the right one. Having the will in place will allow them to focus on processing their loss, instead of worrying about who will get what. Most families will not agree on divisions if left up to them.
Circling Eagle Law Can Help
If you need assistance creating a will and carrying out an estate plan, our team at Circling Eagle Law can guide you through the process. We understand the importance of having your assets distributed according to your wishes.
Call us at (701) 401-7404 to speak with our attorneys about Estate Planning today!