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Tips for administering an estate

If a friend or family member designates you as a personal representative or executor of his or her estate, you may feel thankful and honored. Having someone trust you with the duty of administering his or her assets can be a blessing. However, it can also be confusing and stressful as you figure out what you need to do.

Essentially, estate administration involves collecting assets, paying debts and distributing assets to heirs. Take heed of these tips for administering an estate properly. 

Make sure you understand state law

Each state has its own laws regarding probate. It is vital to grasp the language in North Dakota statutes as much as possible to ensure all your actions are legal. If you do not adhere to estate laws, you may be at risk of removal from your role as the personal representative. Your estate law attorney can help you stay on track. 

Determine whether probate proceedings should be formal or informal

North Dakota allows an informal method of probate, which is a more efficient and simpler process. The informal method requires filing basic paperwork with the court and requesting court approval after the distribution. Generally, a hearing is not necessary during an informal probate process. However, you may need to undergo a formal proceeding if one of the beneficiaries disputes the will. 

Be ready for questions and distrust

When someone dies, it is normal for the surviving family to argue over the estate. This may range from minor squabbles to complex legal claims. As the executor, you have a responsibility to calm the fears of heirs and keep them updated on what you are doing. Clear communication and a calm temperament can go a long way towards a successful distribution process.