Fargo, ND asked in Probate and Estate Planning for North Dakota

Q: My dad just recently died. I'm fourteen and my step mother is keeping all my dad's stuff. What do I do?

She said I could pick stuff I wanted out of his stuff

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1 Lawyer Answer

James W. Martens

Answered
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Bismarck, ND
  • Licensed in North Dakota

A: Presuming your dad died without a will and both of his parents are also deceased, your stepmother would be entitled to the first $150,000, plus half of any balance (i.e., anything remaining above the initial $150,000) of his estate. Not knowing more about the valuations of his property at the time of his death, whether property he owned was owned jointly with your stepmother, and other factors, it is difficult to say what rights you or any of his other children may have.

Often where family members cannot agree on an "in-kind" distribution of property (i.e., Heir A takes a car, Heir B takes a boat, etc.), the personal representative will have to sell the property and distribute the proceeds (this also happens where creditor's claims exceed liquified assets on hand). Your stepmother, being the surviving spouse in this presumptive intestate estate, would have statutory priority to serve as the personal representative. Thus, rather than offering the ability to take certain property you want, she could sell it all and divvy up the proceeds which, based on your question, I presume you do not want either.

Moreover, being that you are a minor, you would need your parent or guardian to pursue the matter on your behalf.

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