Do All Wills Need To Be Probated In Oklahoma

All Wills Need To Be Probated

When it comes to settling someone estate when they pass, a very common question that arises is whether all wills need to go through probated in Oklahoma. Probate is the legal process through which a deceased person’s assets are distributed. This process includes paying off debts, distributing their assts and settling their estate as a whole. Additionally, the probate process happens in the probate court and is under the Judges supervision. However, whether or not all wills need a probate is dependent on several factors, including the nature of assets, state of Oklahoma law, and the structure of the estate plan.

Understanding Probate In Oklahoma:

Before exploring an individual will and whether all wills must go through probate, it’s essential to understand how probate works. In Oklahoma probate involves several steps, and is done per the probate statutes in the state. An understanding of the probate process includes the following:

  1. Filing the Will: The first step involves submitting the deceased person’s will to the probate court. This includes understanding which court has jurisdiction. The Court with jurisdiction is the Court you file the will in.
  2. Validating the Will: The court verifies the authenticity of the will and ensures it meets the legal requirements. Depending on what kind of will someone presents to the court, there are different rules to authenticate it.
  3. Appointing an Executor: If the deceased appointed an executor in the will, the court will formally appoint them to oversee the estate’s administration. If the will does not appoint an executor the person filing the probate can ask the court to appoint them.
  4. Inventorying Assets: The executor identifies and takes inventory of the deceased person’s assets, which may include real estate, bank accounts, investments, and personal belongings.
  5. Paying Debts and Taxes: Outstanding debts, taxes, and administrative expenses are paid from the estate’s assets. This requires giving notice through a legal posting to creditors of the decedents death. Each creditor has a time period to make a claim. If they miss the statutory time limit to file the claim they may be time barred.
  6. Distributing Assets: After settling debts and taxes, the remaining assets distribute to the beneficiaries as outlined in the will.

Exceptions to Probate in Oklahoma :

While probate is a common procedure, not all wills need to go through this process. Several strategies can help bypass or minimize the probate process. This is sometimes known as tools to avoid probate.

  1. Small Estates: Oklahoma offers simplified probate procedures for small estates with assets below a certain threshold. In such cases, heirs may be able to claim assets through affidavit procedures or simplified court proceedings without a formal probate process.
  2. Joint Ownership: Assets held jointly with rights of survivorship automatically pass to the surviving owner(s) outside of probate. Common examples include joint bank accounts, real estate held as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, and jointly owned vehicles. This is very common way for assets to be held and if so it is a great way to avoid probate. Also, if the assets is a home and you don’t have the deed you can check land records in the county the property is.
  3. Beneficiary Designations: Assets with designated beneficiaries, such as life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and payable-on-death (POD) or transfer-on-death (TOD) accounts, bypass probate and go directly to the named beneficiaries. They do this because a beneficiary designation is like a contract. The contract directs the institution to pay the beneficiary upon death.
  4. Living Trusts: Creating a living trust allows individuals to transfer assets into the trust during their lifetime. Upon death, assets in the trust can distribute to beneficiaries without going through probate, as the trust owns the assets, not the deceased individual.

State Laws and Regulations:

It’s important to note that probate laws vary from state to state, and what applies in one jurisdiction may not apply in another. Some states have adopted the Uniform Probate Code (UPC), while others have their own probate laws and procedures. Oklahoma has not adopted it in its entirety but it can be used as a good guide. Further, to understand the probate laws in Oklahoma is crucial in determining whether someone can avoid or minimize it.

Check Out Our Oklahoma Probate Blog For Great Information

Tulsa Okla. Wills and Trust Attorneys Near You:

While probate is a common process for settling estates, not all wills need a probate in Oklahoma. There are several factors that determine this. Estate planning is a great tool to employ probate avoidance tools and many people make use of them. Additionally, it’s always advisable to consult with a probate and wills and trust attorney about options that are available. For a Free Consultation with a Tulsa Oklahoma Will and Probate attorney from Kania Law Office call 918.743.2233 or send us an email to ask a free legal question.

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