The state of Oklahoma has a legal process in place for determining what happens to a deceased person’s assets. Like elsewhere, in Oklahoma this process is referred to as probate. Different states handle probate in different ways, and today’s blog post is about how it’s handled in Oklahoma.
What is the purpose of probate?
The purpose of probate is to assess the value of the deceased’s assets, repay their creditors, pay their taxes, and distribute what remains to their heirs (or anyone else they may have mentioned in their Will). District court supervises while this process is carried out.
Can probate be avoided?
If an estate is small enough — personal property (not including real estate) valued at less than $25,000 — the deceased’s successors can use a Small Estates Affidavit to bypass probate.
Estate planning can also help avoid probate. Certain types of property are classified as non-probate, and therefore not required to pass through probate. Many people choose to own as much of their property as possible within this classification as opposed to the probate property classification. Some examples of non-probate property include trusts, pay on death (POD) and transfer on death (TOD) accounts, and retirement accounts. Joint bank accounts are also non-probate.
How is probate property distributed if there is no Will?
If the deceased person had a Will, their probate property will be distributed according to their wishes as stated in the Will. If not, it will be distributed in accordance with the Oklahoma laws of descent and distribution.
- If the deceased leaves behind a spouse and children, their spouse will receive 50% of their assets, and the other half will be distributed evenly among the children.
- If the deceased does not leave behind a spouse, but does leave behind children, the assets will be split evenly among the children.
- If the deceased leaves behind grandchildren but no children, the grandchildren will receive the percentage their parents would have received. This gets a bit complicated. If you had two daughters, both deceased, and one of them gave birth to one child and the other to two, the grandchild who is an only child would receive 50% of your assets while the other two would each receive 25%.
- If the deceased had no descendants, their assets go to their parents.
- If the deceased had no descendants and was predeceased by their parents, their siblings (and the children of any deceased siblings) will share their assets.
Are you and your family navigating probate after the death of a loved one? Or maybe you want to start an estate plan to help your loved ones avoid the time and expense of probate after your death? In either situation, you need an experienced attorney by your side. At Pence Law Firm, P.C., we have the knowledge and skills to help you. We offer a free 30 minute phone consultation for new clients. Call us today at (918) 367-8505 to find out what we can do for you!