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A person who dies without a will is said to have died intestate. This page introduces the concept of intestate succession.
A critical issue then is who are the heirs to the decedent's property if there is no will to address this question. The solution is that the state legislature answers the question by specifying who will receive the property (who will be the heirs to inherit the decedent's assets). These statutes are referred to as the intestate succession law.
Each state has its own statutory scheme for distributing intestate property. North Dakota's statute is codified at N.D.C.C. 30.1-04. The following points illustrate the application of that statute.
Assuming decedent (D) had no will (entire estate passes intestate), the property will be divided according to the following scheme.
If the decedent is survived by a spouse and children (or other descendants):
If the decedent is survived by children or other descendants, but no spouse:
If the decedent has no surviving spouse, children, or other descendants:
If the decedent has no surviving spouse, children, other descendants, or parents:
The application of the intestate succession laws is broader than just cases when someone dies without a will. The statute also applies if a decedent's will does not distribute all the property of the estate. This often arises because the decedent prepared a will but failed to address all of his/her property. In such a situation, the intestate succession laws specify who will inherit the property that is not addressed in the will.
Last updated March 6, 2006
This material is intended for educational purposes
only. It is not a substitute for competent legal counsel. Seek appropriate
professional advice for answers to your specific questions.
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