How does disposing of property prior to death affect how assets are divided after death?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2014

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How does disposing of property prior to death affect how assets are divided after death?

In my elderly father’s Will, he states that his land and house are to go to his children (he has 6 natural children and 6 stepchildren) but he doesn’t clearly state as to how the assets should be divided. We are in the process of having my dad transfer the land to his 6 stepchildren and the house to his 6 natural children. If this is done while he is still alive, then upon his death, these things have already been dealt with. Will this matter when they look at his Will if these items are already taken care of?

Asked on October 1, 2014 under Estate Planning, North Dakota


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The items such as the property which is transferred prior to death are no longer part of your father's estate.  The beneficiaries named in your father's Will, will inherit other items (if any) as listed in the Will.  If it is your father's intention that the transfers of property during his life are gifts and are to be offset against other bequests to the beneficiaries listed in the Will, that intention should clearly be stated and could be addressed in a codocil (amendment to the Will).


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