Intestate distribution In Oklahoma impacts who gets what in a probate court. Losing a loved one is hard. It’s even harder when the family begins bickering over rights and inheritances. Did the deceased leave behind a will or did they die without a will? How do you know, for sure, who gets what? If you’re in Oklahoma and find yourself in this situation, you’ll need to learn more about Oklahoma’s intestate distribution laws.
Intestate Distribution In Oklahoma Explained
When a person dies without a will, it is called intestacy or dying intestate. If your loved one’s assets (belongings and possessions) have a total value of more than $50,000, then a probate court will disperse your loved one’s assets to the surviving next of kin. In the event that the assets of the deceased person are less than that amount the rules of small estate probate take over. The rules of intestacy are fond in the Oklahoma statutes found at title 58. The judge in the probate court is bound by the Oklahoma statues and will apply the law as the legislature for the state have set out.
Unfortunately, relatives might still argue over who is the next of kin. What if there is a long-lost relative, stepchildren, or an ex-spouse? Intestate distribution has strict lines of intestacy that recognizes even the most remote of heirs to an estate.
How Intestate Distribution Works
Oklahoma laws are clear on intestate distribution law (a.k.a. intestate succession law). If your loved one died without a spouse, but they have children, then their belongings are divided equally between those children. When they have a living spouse but no parents, children, nor siblings, then the spouse gets everything. If there is a spouse and children from a previous marriage, the spouse receives 50% of your loved one’s things, and the children must divide up the other half evenly.
In other words, distribution prioritization goes as follows: spouse, child(ren), parents, siblings. The waters get murkier when questions of immigration status, half-siblings, and children out of wedlock get involved. For cases such as those, you might need the following to prove that you are who you say you are:
- A Marriage License
- A Blood Test
- A Birth Certificate
It won’t matter that you might have lived with your loved one for several years. If you are a foster child or stepchild, you should not expect to inherit anything from the intestate decedent unless they legally adopt you. If you are a grandchild, you should not expect to partake in the intestate distribution either, unless there aren’t any other survivors, and your parent (the decedent’s child) also dies. Bear in mind that the laws of intestacy don not apply if the loved one died with a will or a trust. In that case the court will follow the wishes set out in the will or trust. But, keep in mind that if the decedent left a will that will will have to be admitted to probate court.
Assets That Intestate Laws Don’t Cover
Assets that were not in your loved one’s name will not go to probate court. These include any properties owned through a joint tenancy or placed into a trust. Any property that names a beneficiary, or that there is a will for, won’t be in the intestate distribution either. The latter might occur when your loved one specifically drafts and signs a will for a specific item or items, which two witnesses observed and can verify.
How We Help
Some people die without writing a will because they’re too afraid to think about death. Others just never get around to drafting their estate planning documents. Unfortunately, this tends to cause familial disputes. If you need help with respect to intestate distribution or any probate or estate planning we can help. Call today and get a Free Consultation with one of our Tulsa lawyers at (918) 743-2233 or contact us online.