Most people have heard of the term probate, but many lack a full understanding of the Oklahoma probate process. Knowing more about probate can help you prepare in the event a loved one passes. It can also give you a greater understanding as to what estate planning tools you would like to implement in order to either shorten or avoid probate all together.
Oklahoma Probate Defined:
Probate is the legal process that occurs when someone dies. It will involve:
- Introduction of the deceased person’s will;
- Proving to the court that the deceased person’s will is valid;
- Identifying and inventorying the deceased individual’s assets;
- Appraising the property;
- Paying any debts or taxes; and
- Distributing the remaining assets in accordance with the will (or with state law, if no will exists).
Oklahoma Probate will typically involve much paperwork and the involvement of Oklahoma Probate attorneys. Court fees and attorney expenses will be paid from the property, which would otherwise go to the listed beneficiaries. Probate can be both expensive and time consuming. Even if no litigation occurs, probate will generally take between four and six months.
Property That Goes Through Probate:
No. Certain property will pass outside of your will. This includes any property put in trust or property held in joint ownership. For jointly held property, when the first owner dies, the remainder interest transfers directly to the surviving partner, thus bypassing probate. Most retirement accounts and life insurance policies will also avoid probate because they involve designated beneficiaries. Any bank accounts set up to pay upon death bypass probate too.
In Oklahoma, ways exist to avoid probate when involving minimal assets. Oklahoma probate allows beneficiaries to claim property with just a simple affidavit when the property values at $20,000 or less.
Further, the simplified probate process is available for estates valued at under $200,000. This process is essentially a shortened, simplified version of the probate process and will save money and time.
Avoiding Probate in Oklahoma:
As you can see, the probate process can be time consuming and the court costs along with attorneys’ fees involved will cut into the assets which would otherwise be distributed to your named beneficiaries. Whether you should plan to avoid Oklahoma probate is a question that will best be answered with the assistance of an experienced Tulsa estate planning attorney. An estate planning attorney will review you assets, discuss options for distributing assets, and develop a full understanding of your ultimate estate planning desires.
For those who wish to avoid probate, generally to avoid the costs and time associated, living trusts offer a viable alternative. With a trust, you can name your desired beneficiaries as in a will, but the assets will pass directly to these individuals without the need for court involvement, which many find to be a substantial benefit.
Tulsa County Probate Attorneys
The Oklahoma probate process can be complex, costly, and time consuming. If you are an executor in need of assistance with probating an estate, or if you are a beneficiary with concerns involving a will, the experienced Tulsa County Attorneys at our Law Office can help. We have assisted countless executors and individuals through difficult probate matters. As full service estate planning attorneys, we can also assist interested individuals in avoiding the probate process entirely. We will examine your asset/debt portfolio, and take your wishes into account, in generating an estate plan that best protects your assets for your intended beneficiaries. Contact our probate attorneys today for a free consultation.