North Dakota Inheritance Law

By Kate Fogle
From one generation to another.
family generations image by Daria Miroshnikova from

Inheritance law governs any part of an estate that is not included in a will or similar document. The North Dakota Century Code on intestate succession determines who will inherit and how the heirs will share the estate.


The surviving spouse inherits the whole estate if no parent or descendant is alive to inherit or if the only descendants are her children. If a parent survives, the spouse receives the first $300,000 and three-quarters of the remaining estate. The surviving spouse receives a smaller share if the decedent has descendants who are not his children.

Other Relatives

Children are entitled to equal shares of the remaining estate or, if no children survive, the decedent's parents share the estate. Brothers and sisters, who share equally, are next in line. More distant relatives inherit only if no close relatives are living.


An individual must live at least 120 hours after the time of the decedent's death to inherit.


Individuals who give a prospective heir part of an inheritance before dying must document that the gift is a share of the inheritance in writing.


When no relative is alive to inherit, the property goes to the state to support public schools.

About the Author

Kate Fogle, an attorney and former English teacher, is the communications director for a non-profit agency in Stockton, Calif. Prior to recent articles on, her writing has been published in-house for professional purposes. Fogle is a graduate of UC Davis with a JD from UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall.