If someone makes a will and that person dies, you must probate a will in Oklahoma to determine if its valid. A last will and testament (known more simply as a will) is a legal document which lays out instructions for what to do with some or all of your assets at your death. Some of your assets that might be distributed by the terms of your will include bank accounts, furniture, jewelry, and property that is titled in your name or in the name of your estate when you die.
By making and executing a valid will, you (the testator) direct that those assets identified in it are to be distributed according to your specific instructions. An executor or executrix (also known as a personal representative) is someone who you name in your will who will take care of the administration of your estate which includes carrying out those instructions laid out in your will.
Probating A Will In Oklahoma
In Oklahoma, probate is a process where certain of a deceased person’s assets are gathered up, the assets are valued, the deceased person’s creditors are paid, taxes are dealt with, and then the remaining assets are distributed to those who are lawfully entitled to them. If a person has a valid will and then dies, then the assets go to the beneficiaries (legatees) of the will. If the person dies without one, then the assets go to the deceased person’s heirs.
Is Probate Necessary For A Will?
If you own assets in Oklahoma when you die, then regardless of whether you have a will, your estate typically goes through probate. However, a valid will makes all the difference in terms of what happens during probate. Specifically, a will must be submitted to the court and determined valid and legally binding before any property identified in the will is transferred to beneficiaries. If the will is not valid for whatever reason, then probate will take place as though there was never a will. So, for your will to mean anything, probate is necessary.
To get things kicked off, your executor has to file your will with the court that is located in the county where you resided at your death. Once the court accepts the will and appoints the executor, the executor must get the assets of your estate together to create an inventory. After that, the executor must pay creditors and tax authorities, perform an accounting, and then distribute the remaining assets of the estate to your named beneficiaries. Throughout this process, there are a number of documents that need to be filed with the court and approved by a judge. Once everything is finished, the court closes out the estate and discharges the executor.
How Long Does Probate Take?
In most cases, probate can be wrapped up inside of six months, but there are some cases which take longer because there are lots of assets involved or there are issues with beneficiaries, creditors or lawsuits. You might own a lot of stuff by the time that you die, and each asset has to be valued before it is disposed of. You might own multiple properties that have to be appraised and sold so that the proceeds are properly distributed to beneficiaries. These things take time. As for creditors, they have to be notified and paid before beneficiaries in most cases. If there are issues with paying those creditors, such as insufficient funds or disputes about the validity of debts, then this could hold up the process.
Fortunately, Oklahoma has an expedited, simplified process called summary administration which is available in any of the following situations:
- your estate is valued at under $200,000
- you lived somewhere other than Oklahoma at your death
- You died more than five years ago
Notably, summary administration might be wrapped up in under two months. Plus, there are less court appearances and requirements which means it is less expensive.
Contact a Tulsa Probate Attorney Near You.
Kania Law Office has helped many clients with estate plans that provide for the effective management and distribution of their assets. We also help executors and personal representatives with administering estates and handling all forms of probate. If you are considering a will as part of your estate plan, or you need help with probating someone’s estate, then consult with Kania Law Office by calling (918) 743-2233 or by contacting us online today.