Making a will is similar in every state, but there are certain differences that are important to know—otherwise, you risk your will not being recognized as valid. Every state has its own legal requirements for making a will. To make a will in North Dakota, you must follow the state statutes and formalize the will in the required ways. When making an online will, make sure yuo use an online will that is customized for North Dakota.
Can I Make a Will Online in North Dakota?
Yes, you can make a will online in North Dakota. We recommend USLegalWills to make a will online.
Here is a checklist of the requirements to make a will in North Dakota valid:
- The Testator—the person making the will—must be at least 18 years old (or a lawfully married minor).
- The Testator must be of sound mind and memory.
- The will must be in writing. If you make a will online, you must print it out.
- The Testator must sign the will, either:
- In front of two witnesses, who each must sign the will in front of the Testator, or
- The Testator acknowledges their signature in front of the witnesses, who then sign the will.
Any person generally competent to act as a witness may witness a will; generally, it is best that your witnesses are “disinterested” (not beneficiaries in the will). However, in North Dakota, if your will is witnessed by “interested” parties, it does not invalidate the will or any provision in it. To avoid any unnecessary legal complications, it is better to use “disinterested” witnesses.
Does North Dakota Require a Notarized Will?
No, North Dakota does not require you to notarize your will in order for it to be valid. Any time a will is presented to the probate court, though, it must be validated. North Dakota does allow a will to be “self-proved,” which helps the probate court to quickly validate the will and allow the executor of the estate to carry out the will.
It is not the will itself that is notarized. There is a separate document, called a “self-proving affidavit,” which is notarized and attached to the will. You can choose to make a sworn statement in front of a notary public, who will act as a witness to your will. If you did have witnesses sign the will, you and your witness must make sworn statements in front of the notary public.
By attaching “self-proving affidavits” to your will, it allows the court to accept your will as valid without having to call upon witnesses to testify to its authenticity.
Can I Name an Executor in North Dakota?
Yes, you can name an executor in your will, as well as in a will you make online. An executor of an estate is the person responsible for settling the estate, ensuring the will is followed. It is a good idea to name someone as your executor, choosing someone you know well and trust. If you do not name an executor in your will, the probate court will appoint an executor to handle the estate.
Here are the requirements for an executor in North Dakota:
- The person must be at least 18 years old.
- The person must be of sound mind (must not have been judged incapacitated by a court).
Many other states disallow anyone with felony convictions from serving as executor; however, there are no statutes in North Dakota that prohibit this. You are free to name any competent adult. It is best to choose someone who is well organized and able to keep track of details.
There are no special conditions to name an out-of-state executor in North Dakota. For practical purposes, it is better to consider naming an executor who lives nearby. Settling an estate can sometimes take weeks, months, or even longer.
Do I Need an Attorney to Make a Will in North Dakota?
No, an attorney is not required to make a will. However, in some situations—for example, if the estate is very large or complex—it is wise to consult an estate planning attorney. If you have a simple estate and a straightforward will, online will making is a good option. You want to make sure you follow all the legal requirements for a will to be recognized as valid in North Dakota, and you want to use an online will making service that has state-specific templates.
What types of wills are valid in North Dakota?
Whether you make your will online or otherwise, any type of will that satisfies the state statutes of North Dakota is considered valid.
Can I Make a Holographic Will in North Dakota?
A holographic will is a will that is handwritten and signed, usually with no attesting witnesses, by the Testator (the person making the will). Holographic wills often face delays in probate, though, as people often forget to include important provisions or use unclear language. Holographic wills also must be proved authentic (usually by calling upon witnesses to testify to your handwriting and to your state of mind when the will was made).
North Dakota does recognize holographic wills. If the signature and the material portions of it are in the Testator’s handwriting, the court can accept the will. It is always better to have your will witnessed, to avoid any potential legal complications.
Can I Make a Nuncupative or Video Will in North Dakota?
An oral will, known as a nuncupative will, is generally known as a “deathbed will.” Sometimes, people wish to leave oral wills on video. While it may seem to be an easier method of making a will, North Dakota does not recognize nuncupative wills.
Oral wills made in North Dakota are ineffective to transfer property or to leave any other terms for the court to enforce. In order for the court to recognize your will, it must be written and comply with state statute formalities.
How Is a Living Will Different from an Online Will in North Dakota?
A living will, which is also known as an advance directive, is a separate document than a last will and testament. A living will contains instructions on medical decisions and end-of-life care, and it is executed separately and with different requirements than a last will and testament. A last will and testament includes directions for settling a person’s estate and other such matters after someone dies, making it not the right place to leave medical directives and/or end-of-life care stipulations. Instead, you want to create a living will. You should make copies of your living will to give to the executor of your estate, other trusted family members, as well as to your medical providers.
You can make both a living will and a last will and testament online, and you can find more information on living wills in North Dakota here.
The general requirements to make a valid living will in North Dakota are:
- You must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind.
- You must sign the document.
- It must be witnessed by two people.
- It must substantially follow the same form as provided by North Dakota state law §23-06.5.
- It only goes into effect if you are incapacitated and unlikely to regain consciousness as determined by your doctors.
Why Do I Need to Make a Will Online in North Dakota?
If an individual dies without a will, the intestacy laws of North Dakota will determine what happens to all the property which belonged to that person. The court also will appoint guardians for any minor children, name someone as the executor of the estate, and divide the estate per the intestacy distribution laws of the state. This can become a lengthy, complicated legal process; property is often held up in probate for months or even years at a time.
It is important to make a will in North Dakota if you own any property (monetary or real estate) or if you have any minor children. If you want to control how your estate is distributed, or if you want to leave any property or gifts to non-family members, you can only do that by making a will.
What Can I Include in an Online Will in North Dakota?
In addition to naming the executor of your estate, you can include the following when making an online will in North Dakota:
- You can appoint guardians for minor children.
- You can appoint a trusted person to oversee any property left to said children.
- You can name a trusted person to care for any remaining pets.
- You can distribute your property in the manner you desire.
- You can leave property or gifts to friends, charities, or other organizations.
- You can distribute family heirlooms.
- You can distribute personal or sentimental items.
What Should Not Be Included in a Will in North Dakota?
A last will and testament is not the place to leave any medical directives, end-of-life care, or funeral instructions. When someone dies, the funeral arrangements are usually made immediately. After the funeral, the will is read and the estate is settled. If funeral instructions are left in the will, family members may not know about them until after the funeral. The same is true, of course, for end-of-life care stipulations. Medical directives and end-of-life care directions must satisfy different requirements to be considered effective.
To designate end-of-life care, create a living will. For medical directives, create advance directives. You must satisfy the state statutes set forth by North Dakota in order for such directions to be effective.
For funeral directions, you do not need to create a formal document. You can talk with family members to make your wishes known. However, you can type up a document describing your desires so that your family can refer to it when making the funeral arrangements. Make copies of it to give to the executor of your estate or other trusted family members.
Can I Change or Revoke an Online Will Made in North Dakota?
When you make a will in North Dakota, it is considered a legally binding document, whether it is made online or not. As long as you are alive, you can change or revoke your will at any time.
In North Dakota, here are ways to change or revoke a will:
- By destroying it physically, such as burning it, tearing it, or otherwise destroying it with the intent of revoking it,
- By ordering someone else to destroy it in front of you,
- By writing a new will that says it revokes the old one or has contradictory terms to the old one.
You will want to revisit your will after any major life change. Marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child, any significant change in your assets, or relocation are all good reasons to update your will. If you are making major changes, it is best to write a new will, specifically stating it revokes the old one. However, if you only have minor changes you want to add, you can instead make a codicil. A codicil is an amendment to your will that details the changes, and it must be finalized with the same formalities as a will.
How Do I Finalize an Online Will in North Dakota?
After you make a will in North Dakota, you want to take the following steps to finalize it:
- If made online, you want to print it out.
- You want to sign or acknowledge your signature in front of two witnesses who then sign it, or
- You want to sign it in front of a notary public.
In order for your will to be considered “self-proved,” you can sign it in front of a notary public and attach the affidavit to your will. Otherwise, you and your witnesses can make sworn statements in front of a notary public, which you then attach to the will.
Be sure to consider these special considerations in North Dakota:
- Divorce automatically revokes any language in your will that leaves property to your former spouse or names your former spouse as the executor.
- Estates valued at less than $50,000 may be probated as a “simple estate.”
- You cannot distribute life insurance policy beneifits or retirement account proceeds in a will.
- Your surviving spouse can file for an “elective share” of your estate if you exclude them from the will.
North Dakota probate procedures vary according to the value of the estate, but generally the process is simpler for estates valued at less than $50,000.
We tested multiple online will services to find out which ones produce the best last will and testament. Of all the wills we created—and had our lawyer review—USLegalWills had the best end product. To make an online last will and testament, we recommend USLegalWills.