Dying without a will in Oklahoma is costly. According to AARP, an unfortunate 60% of Americans do not have any estate plan or will in place to dispose of their property when they die. For those dying without a will in Oklahoma, or any other estate plan to dispose of their property, they have died intestate (not on the highway). Title 84 § 211. The process by which their property is distributed, is called intestate succession. The laws of intestate distribution are different for each state. Which state probate law applies depends on several different factors but where you live when you die is a major determining factor.
Intestate Succession in Oklahoma
Intestate succession is the process a state uses to distribute your property for those dying without a will in Oklahoma. This process is done in the court where jurisdiction is proper. The probate court decides who the “heirs” of the recently deceased are. Once this is decided the Court assigns rights to the property depending on who is determined to be an “heir at law”. This process begins by filing in the probate court an heirship certificate. In an affidavit of heirship the person filing it sets out each and every heir of the person that passed. Depending on the heirs relationship to the deceased person, this determines in what order and what share the heir receives property. In Oklahoma, Title 84 § 2. sets out the order of heirs to a person who dies without a will or other estate plan.
Creating a Will in Oklahoma
To create a will the testator (person writing the will) must be 18 years of age or older and of sound mind. Each state has their own will requirements depending on which type of will you make. In Oklahoma, the requirements for creating a valid will seem simple but, if done incorrectly, can invalidate the will. The most popular will in Oklahoma requires the will be in writing. The will must have the signature of the testator with two witnesses who must also sign the will and have their signatures notarized. The witnesses cannot receive any property from the will they are witnessing. Title 84 § 55.
While some wills have their own set of qualifications (holographic, conditional, nuncupative), these rules of formation are generally applicable in Oklahoma. Regardless of the type of will you form, it still must be probated by the Oklahoma Probate Court to determine its validity. If the court finds that it is your property, it is distributed as you set out in the will.
Creating A Trust in Oklahoma
A trust created during lifetime is called an inter vivos or living trust. There are several different types of Trusts that a person can make. Some may be charitable trusts or Trusts for the benefit of your family, friends, or even for yourself. Depending on which one a person chooses, these can be revocable or irrevocable. A Trust helps avoid the costly and time consuming probate process.
Revocable Trusts in Oklahoma
A revocable trust can be revoked or changed during the Grantor’s (author’s) lifetime. A revocable trust sets out a Trustee and instructs the Trustee how to distribute trust property when you die. You can be the Trustee when you’re alive and designate whomever you want to be the Trustee when you pass. Besides avoiding probate, the great thing about a revocable trust is that you can change its terms anytime for any reason. This includes changing what property is owned by the Trust or who acts as the Trustee when you pass. What ever you decide before passing, the Trust does not go through the probate process.
Irrevocable Trusts in Oklahoma
After created, an irrevocable trust cannot be changed. Unlike a revocable trust, that can be revoked or changed by the grantor, an irrevocable trust cannot. This means that once you fund your irrevocable trust you no longer own the property but, rather, the property is owned by the trust. However, you can decide who is the Trustee and what the terms and distribution of trust property are. In order to create any trust, the Grantor must be of sound mind and free from outside influence.
The main reason a person creates an irrevocable trust is to avoid creditor claims against their assets and can include medical bills or any other claims a creditor makes. The reasoning is simple: if you don’t own the property, they can’t take it to settle their claims. Any trust is a drafted document that appoints a Trustee. The Trustee (a third party) is the person that distributes your property to any beneficiary (person receiving assets or property). In Oklahoma the law for Trusts is found at Title 60 Oklahoma Trust Act.
Tulsa Probate Lawyers Near You
An important part of Estate Planning is deciding how and to who you want your property to go after you pass. Dying without A will in Oklahoma takes this power away from you and gives it over to the state. Whether its a will or a Trust, you decide who and and how much your friends and family receive upon your death. Contact our Wills Trust and probate lawyers in Tulsa for a free consultation. 918.743.2233