What is Probate in Oklahoma?
Probate is the legal process in which the probate court oversees the administration of a person's estate, all their assets, after they have passed. Probate is necessary to pass title and to distribute assets out of the deceased's name and into the name of the heirs.
Dying without a Will is called dying “intestate”, and when that happens, the probate process becomes a bit more complicated. Because there is no instrument in place that lays out your final wishes, it is up to the courts to handle proceedings and make all the decisions about your estate for you in accordance with state laws. It seems simple, but there is a lot that goes into it.
What is the Probate Process in Oklahoma?
Although an Oklahoma probate may seem easy to do, they often become overwhelming because of the steps and detail involved. The steps of a typical Oklahoma probate include:
Step 1: File a Petition to Open Probate Procedures
An Oklahoma probate is initiated by someone filing a Petition for Probate and the decedent’s Will (if the decedent had one) in the district court of the county where the decedent lived.
Step 2: Publish a Notice of Hearing on Probate
After the petition is filed, a notice must be given to all interested parties. To give potentially interested parties time to see the newly opened probate and bring forth any disputes, there will be a short waiting period before there is a hearing on the probate.
Step 3: Hearing on Petition to Probate
After the waiting period for the notice of the hearing on probate has passed, the hearing will be conducted in which a probate judge will appoint an Executor (if there was a Will) or Personal Representative (if there was not a Will) of the estate. Once appointed, the court will issue Letters of Administration formally appointing the Executor or Personal Representative to administer the estate.
Step 4: Notify Creditors
Any debts the decedent held at the time of death now fall on the estate, and the creditors to these debts must be identified and notified of the decedent’s passing, so they can make a claim against the estate.
Step 5: Notify Beneficiaries
Beneficiaries of the estate must be notified. This step is usually fairly easy when there is a Will as the Will names the beneficiaries. But this step becomes more difficult when there is no Will.
Step 6: Inventory Estate
The Executor or Personal Representative must take an inventory of all the assets of the estate and the value of those assets and inform the court.
Step 7: Pay Debts and Taxes
Before an estate can be closed, all debts must be paid with approval from the probate court.
Step 8: Finalize Taxes
Once the above steps are completed, taxes must be filed on behalf of the estate.
Step 9: Distribute Assets
Once the above steps are completed, the remaining assets of the estate must be distributed according to the wishes outlined in the Will or according to the court.
For simple estates, the probate process fairly simple if you are familiar with the intricacies that come along with it. But often times, estates become complicated as you get more and more involved in them.
Unfortunately, probate can be a tedious and time-consuming process. Having an experienced attorney who handles these cases all the time and understands the nuances that come along with them can be extremely helpful. We will walk you step by step through the process.
Oklahoma Probate Attorney
If you have experienced the loss of a loved one and need some direction, we are here to help. We can make sure everything is taken care of and lift the burden off of you and your family.
If you are needing to probate a loved one's estate and are feeling lost and overwhelmed, we are here to help you with this process. Contact a Wichita Falls probate attorney today at (940) 569-4000 or fill out our contact form for a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation.