Oklahoma intestate law is what takes over by default. Creating a will is so important because if you don’t have one in place when you die, the state will decide what happens to everything you own. A will or a trust is a legal document that explains what to do with your property after death, among other things. You die intestate when you don’t have a valid will at your death and your property is disposed in probate. And while dying intestate does not mean that your assets will vanish. It does mean that your property could fall into the wrong hands. Here’s more on how intestacy might affect you.
The Basic Order Of Things
The Oklahoma intestate law of succession, which define what happens to your property if you die without a will or if your will is said to be invalid, naturally only cover the things that would normally go to someone else at your death. This is normally done by virtue of your will. There are quite a few valuable items that aren’t covered by a will, such as:
- Life insurance: The beneficiary named in the insurance policy collects the proceeds.
- Money in an investment account: A 401(k), IRA, or other investment account passes to a named beneficiary.
- Transfer-on-death or payable-on-death: Some bank accounts and other investments can be set up to transfer ownership automatically to someone named as a beneficiary.
- Property in joint tenancy: Real estate owned jointly will pass directly to the other owner without regard to a will or other estate planning devices.
In other words, if you own these foregoing assets and you named beneficiaries to receive these assets at your death, then dying without a will does not affect these distributions or end up in probate court. However, if you don’t name beneficiaries on those assets, then by default, they will be paid to your estate. In that case, the laws on intestacy and a probate proceeding will affect who gets what.
Many people have the mistaken idea that when one spouse dies unexpectedly, the surviving spouse will get all the property. This isn’t always the case. Under Oklahoma law, this is far from true. A lot depends on your surviving relatives when you die. If you die with children (together with your surviving spouse, or separately), parents, grandparents, or siblings, the surviving spouse will be sharing the inheritance with one or more family members.
Marital Property Versus Individual Property
In dividing the spouse’s share, the law covers two types of property. This includes that which was earned by the couple together during the time of their marriage and those things that were owned separately by one spouse. This includes individual earnings that were saved prior to the marriage. Other things like, gifts from others, and things the spouse owned before the marriage (separate property). So, in some cases where property goes by law to the deceased person’s relatives, the surviving spouse keeps all of what was created by the couple and splits the remainder according to the laws on intestacy.
Some Possibilities For Intestate Outcomes
- If you are survived by your parents but not any children or grandchildren (called descendants in the law), your spouse gets all the property you acquired together during your marriage and keeps one-third of the rest of your estate. Your parents get the other two-thirds.
- If you die with descendants that you had together in the marriage, your spouse gets one-half of all the value of your estate. Your children get the other half to be held in trust if they are underage.
- If you die with children who are not descendants of your surviving spouse, your spouse gets half of the things you acquired together during the marriage and splits any remaining property. Your spouse is always allowed to inherit one of your vehicles if you die without a will.
- If you die with children who have predeceased you but they have children their children split their share equally.
Creating Or Revoking A Will
A last will and testament lays out instructions for what to do with some or all your assets when you die. This helps you avoid Oklahoma intestate law. Some of your assets that might be distributed by your will include bank accounts, furniture, jewelry, and any other property titled in your name or the name of your estate when you die. By executing a valid will, you (the testator) direct that assets covered by your will are to be distributed by your chosen executor (also known as a personal representative).
Kania Law Office has helped many clients with estate plans tailored to their unique needs. We help provide advice for the effective management and distribution of your assets. You do not want to die intestate. If you or a loved one is considering a will as part of your estate planning, feel free to consult with Kania Law Office by calling (918) 743-2233 or contacting us online today.
Tulsa's Local Lawyers
Are you looking for Tulsa attorneys who will fight aggressively for you? Our team of attorneys have the experience needed in Oklahoma law to secure the outcome you deserve.
Call us today for a free consultation 918-743-2233 or contact us online.