Probate letters of administration in Oklahoma deal with who is responsible to administer a persons estate. During our lives, dealing with the loss of a loved one is, unfortunately, inevitable. Administering the estate of a deceased family member can be an arduous, complicated, and emotionally draining task. Many technical legal terms are used that complicate a probate process with which most of us are unfamiliar. However, some basic understanding of these terms is necessary. “Letters of administration in probate” or “letters testamentary” are interchangeable terms often used during probate in Tulsa.
The Oklahoma Probate Process
Probate is the term used for the process of distributing the assets of a deceased person upon their death. It applies to the entire process of administration of estates of deceased persons, including those without wills. The process is fairly consistent throughout the State but local rules set in different district courts for different counties may very depending on the Judge. Its important for you to understand the district court hearing your case. This is so you understand the nuances of the Judge in the case and what they require.
If A Person Dies Testate – With A Will
If a person dies with a will, a petition to probate the will is filed with the probate court in the county where the deceased resided at the time of death. The petition requests letters testamentary to be issued so that the executor – the personal representative named in the will – has the authority to administer the estate’s affairs. A will normally tells the court who gets what but if not the law of intestacy informs the judge.
Duties Of The Executor
The executor’s duties when administering a decedent’s estate include the following:
- Safeguarding all the assets of the estate
- Taking inventory of the property of the estate
- Submitting accountings or inventories to the court as required
- Paying the debts and expenses of the decedent
- Paying any federal or state death taxes, if appliable
- Distributing the estate to the legatees named in the will or, if no will exists, to the heirs as designated by Oklahoma law
The court with jurisdiction over the estate will issue Letters Testamentary if there is a will. This might also include handwritten wills. A petition for letters testamentary must be in writing, signed by you or your attorney, and filed with the court. The petition must state all the facts essential to giving the court jurisdiction of the case. If the facts giving the court jurisdiction existed but are not fully outlined in the petition and are afterward proved during the administration of the estate, any decree or order of administration and subsequent proceedings are not void for lack of jurisdiction.
As an applicant, you must state the names, ages, and residence of the decedent’s heirs and the value and character of the decedent’s property. Once a petition is filed, the court sets a hearing. It will give notice of the hearing containing the name of the decedent, the name of the applicant for letters, and the day on which the application will be heard. Once granted, letters testamentary and letters of administration must be signed by the judge under the court’s seal.
When there are several persons equally entitled to the administration of the estate, the court may grant letters to one or more of them. If a creditor is claiming letters, the court has the discretion to grant letters to any other legally competent person at the request of another creditor.
Letters of administration must be granted to any applicant, even if it appears that other persons have better rights to the administration of the estate when such persons fail to appear and claim the issuing of letters.
If A Person Dies Intestate – Without A Will
According to Oklahoma intestacy laws, if a person dies without a valid will, the court appoints an administrator to distribute the decedent’s assets. The court will issue letters of administration to the administrator that provide the authority to administer the estate’s affairs.
Administration of the estate of a person dying intestate must be granted to one or more of the following persons in the following order:
- The surviving husband or wife, or some competent person whom he or she may request to have appointed.
- The children.
- The father or mother.
- The brothers or sisters.
- The grandchildren.
- The next of kin who are entitled to share in the distribution of the estate.
- The creditors.
- Any other person who is legally competent.
Letters Of Administration
The court will issue Letters of Administration if there is no will. This appoints the person who will administer the estate. The family can agree on one or more people and in most cases the Court will do what the family agrees on. If the family cant agree or there isn’t anyone to do it the court will decide on its own.
Oklahoma Probate Lawyers
If you need Oklahoma probate letters of administration our Tulsa probate attorneys can help. Going through probate to execute the final wishes of a friend or family member can be an emotional, challenging process unlike no other. The attorneys at Kania Law Office have the experience and knowledge in probate cases to help you through a difficult time. For more information about how our Tulsa estate planning lawyers can help you call (918) 743-2233 or contact us online.