Contributor: Jesse Maier
Often our law firm will get calls from individuals living in Arizona, California, Texas (places that don’t hurt to live in come November), and they wonder what will happen to their North Dakota mineral interests upon their death.
It is a fact of life that many people leave North Dakota for greener and warmer pastures (or pastures in which there are not 40 feet of snow). The result of this mass migration, however, leads to many non-North Dakota residents owning mineral interests in North Dakota. Of course, non-North Dakota residents could have also inherited North Dakota mineral interests from the dearly departed residents of the Peace Garden State.
So how is North Dakota real estate transferred when the owner does not live in North Dakota? Probate. I am sure you have already read our probate blog articles here, here, and here (the last one is about Star Wars, so check that one out). In case you are not well versed, probate is the process in which you utilize the North Dakota court system to ensure the assets of the person who died are used to pay any outstanding bills and any remaining assets are given to the deceased person’s family or other people named in his or her will. (I am skipping what happens if the deceased person had a trust or some other advanced estate plan. If that person is you and you still have questions, call us.)
When someone from outside of North Dakota dies owning real estate in North Dakota, the North Dakota courts will essentially take their direction from the state court in which the person died. Example time. Fedup Fred was tired of digging his car out from under a snowbank 7 months out of the year. So, he moved away from North Dakota and got a place in Muchbetterville, Arizona, where he lived until his death. Upon Fedup’s death, his children realize Fedup Fred had mineral interests in the infamous Bakken Formation. His children’s first step is to open a probate in Arizona and take care of Fedup’s Arizona bills and assets. Then what?
Then, Fedup’s children would contact our law firm and we will work with them to get the Arizona probate documents recognized in the North Dakota court system. Once recognized, Fedup’s children can then continue on and transfer the North Dakota property into their name or transfer the property to the ultimate beneficiary.
In short, the probate process is not much different for out-of-staters than North Dakota residents. The first step is to call a law firm experienced in handling the procedure and logistical issues associated with probating a non-resident’s estate. Call us.
If you have any questions regarding probates in North Dakota, give us a call at 701-297-2890 or email us below. This article is only meant to provide general information and does not constitute legal advice.