The benefits of Estate Planning in Oklahoma are many fold. An estate plan provides individuals with a number of benefits including the opportunity to dictate what will happen with their assets at their incapacity and death. Completing a will, trust, and other estate planning documents can give you the peace of mind in knowing that you – rather than the State of Oklahoma – determine who gets to benefit from the assets that you have worked so hard to accumulate throughout your life. Critically, if you die without having undergone proper estate planning, then Oklahoma’s intestate succession and probate laws will determine what happens with your property. Here’s more on what this means.
What Passes Through Intestate Succession?
If you have assets that you own jointly with a relative, you do not necessarily need an estate plan to dictate what will happen with that property. For instance, if you jointly own a home with your spouse, your spouse will become the owner of that home in most circumstances.
Some other property that will not pass through intestate succession will include IRAs and other retirement accounts, life insurance policies, payable on death bank accounts, and property that includes a transfer on death or beneficiary deed. This is because with those types of property, you generally designate beneficiaries.
If you don’t name beneficiaries for these types of property – or the named beneficiaries predecease you – then intestate succession might come into the picture. If you have assets that would ordinarily be disposed of by your will (e.g. jewelry, car, home furnishings), but you don’t have a valid will at your death, then intestate succession might come into the picture.
Intestate Succession Laws In Oklahoma
Benefits of Estate Planning mean that you can avoid Oklahoma intestate succession. With intestate succession, your property passes to individuals in your family according to a certain scheme. For instance, if you have children but no spouse at the time of your death, then your children will inherit your entire estate. Alternatively, if you have a spouse and no children or parents, then your spouse will inherit all of your property.
If you have a spouse and children that you share with that spouse, then your spouse will inherit half of your interstate property while your descendants will inherit the remainder of those assets. Suppose you have children from a prior relationship and a surviving spouse. In that case, your spouse inherits half of the property acquired by joint effort during your marriage and splits the remaining property equally with your descendants from that other relationship.
Individuals who have surviving parents and a spouse will leave all of their jointly acquired marital property to their spouse, one third of the remaining intestate property to their spouse, and the remainder to the parents. The situation is similar if you pass away leaving behind a spouse and siblings but no parents: the spouse gets the jointly acquired marital property and one third of the remaining intestate property, and the remainder of intestate property goes to your siblings.
If you only have parents at the time of your death, those parents will inherit all of your intestate property. If you have siblings and no spouse, descendants, or parents, then your siblings inherit everything.
In rare cases where individuals do not have any family listed in the Interstate laws, the state obtains the property. However, in most cases, the state will attempt to send your property to any relatives, including nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, and uncles. Money that does go to the state helps support public schools.
Hiring A Lawyer For An Estate Plan
In most cases, your property will go to family even if you die without an estate plan. However, by failing to create such a plan, you forfeit control over who will inherit what assets. Maybe you don’t want your estranged son or daughter to get a dime of your assets. Maybe you have certain of your assets that you want to designate to those who have played a more important role in your life. Perhaps you want to pass on your assets to certain beneficiaries, but you are concerned that they will gamble it away in a Vegas casino. An estate plan helps ensure that your wishes are carried out.
Creating a well-designed estate plan also helps your loved ones avoid the probate contests and the probate process which can be time-consuming and costly. Moreover, an estate plan can address which of your loved ones will be entrusted to watch over your finances and healthcare if you become incapacitated.
To learn more about the benefits of Estate Planning in Oklahoma speak to our Tulsa probate lawyers. Feel free to touch base with the skilled estate planning lawyers at Kania Law Office by calling (918) 743-2233 or by contacting us online.