In Oklahoma, when someone dies without a trust or a will (intestate) and their estate is of a certain value, their estate is subject to the probate process. Additionally, even if the deceased has a will in place, their estate may still be required to go through probate. The only sure way to avoid probate is to work with an attorney to establish a living trust and other necessary estate planning documents.
We know that losing a loved one is hard enough. Having to go through the complicated probate process while also grieving can be overwhelming. Since 2002, our law firm has helped countless clients through navigate probate. Our trusted probate lawyer in Tulsa is well-versed in all aspects of the probate process, and we are committed to helping you every step of the way.
The Probate Process in Oklahoma
When someone dies, there are several legal matters to be addressed. Probate is the legal process by which the probate courts oversee the discharging of debts and transfer assets from the deceased person to their legatees or heirs. Probate must be handled by the probate court in the county in which the decedent lived. If they happened to own property in another state, they would also be subject to probate in that state.
Estates of a certain value may be exempt from the probate requirement. If your estate is valued at less than $50,000, it may not have to go through the Oklahoma probate process. If this is the case, the deceased person's heirs can use a Small Estates Affidavit to obtain the property and avoid the probate process.
There are many steps to the probate process, including:
- A petition for probate is filed with the court
- Any existing will must be probated
- Assets subject to probate are identified and assessed
- An executor is named to manage the estate
- Beneficiaries are identified and notified
- Property titles are transferred
- Debts and taxes are paid
- Probate fees are paid
This is just an abbreviated look at some of the steps in the probate process. When managing probate, all parts of the process must be followed and adhered to accurately. Failure to do so can slow down the process and may result in punitive penalties. In Oklahoma, it is not unheard of for the probate process to take six months.
How to Avoid Probate
Many clients come to us wondering how they can protect their estate from probate. The key to avoiding probate is to convert as much of your property as possible to nonprobate property. Typically, property solely owned by the deceased individual and that does not have a named beneficiary will be subject to probate. Common types of property that are often subject to probate include bank accounts, real estate, and securities accounts.
Nonprobate property includes:
- Property held in a trust
- 401k accounts
- IRA accounts
- Other retirement accounts
- Life insurance
- Pay-on-death accounts
- Transfer-on-death securities
- Joint tenancy property
If property is identified as being subject to the probate process, it must go through the probate court – you cannot just skip probate.
Reliable Representation from an Attorney Who Cares
At David C. Fisher, P.C., we know that dealing with probate is emotionally difficult and often overwhelming. When clients come to us for probate help, we work to get to know them and their family dynamic. This helps us provide the personalized legal services they need to feel confident when navigating the probate process.
We approach every case with care and understanding. With a background in professional mediation, when probate issues arise, such as contested wills and other probate disputes, we are prepared to be strong advocates for our clients. We are readily available and strive to offer the practical, realistic counsel you are looking for.
"Best family lawyer Oklahoma!"London E.
"I have used David several times he as been very upfront, dependable and honest."Steve J.
"We never doubted him for a second and our family is extremely grateful for everything that he did."Hayley K.