This is the last article in our series on probate and processes.  The previous post discussed the various types of probate proceedings in Oklahoma.  In this article, we will summarize some key takeaways from the series.

Losing a loved one is emotionally challenging – and navigation through the probate process while grieving can be overwhelming.  We are probate lawyers who take pride in serving our clients in their time of need.  Whether you wish to initiate a probate proceeding or contest a pending proceeding, we are here to help.  Contact us online or by telephone to speak to an OKC Probate Lawyer.

Some of the topics that we discussed throughout the series:

Not all estates must go through probate

Only probate assets go through the probate process.  Probate assets are properties that either pass through a will or the laws of intestacy.  Conversely, the assets that pass outside the will or the laws of intestacy are non-probate assets. 

Properties owned by the decedent under their name alone are typically probate assets.  While the properties that are held in joint tenancy, with a transfer on death designation, held in a trust or an entity like an LLC aren’t probate assets.  Therefore, they pass outside the probate process.

If the probate assets consist mainly of personal property that is valued under $50,000, then probate isn’t required.  A small estate affidavit may suffice to transfer title or move bank funds.

However, whether probate is required ultimately depends on several factors such as the estate’s value, property ownership structure, decedent’s debts, creditors, and so on.  Talk to a knowledgeable probate attorney to get an answer that is tailored to your case.

Probate may be avoided

The probate process can be lengthy and expensive.  Plus, the proceeding is a matter of public records that is easily accessible.  For these reasons, many prefer to avoid it.  You can avoid having to probate certain assets by using tools such as joint tenancy, living trusts, transfer on death deeds, and payable on death designations.

However, if the probate assets include real property or consist of personal property valued over $50,000, then probate may be inevitable.

State law applies in intestate estates

If a person dies without a will or any estate plan in place, then they are said to have died intestate.  Such an estate is distributed according to the Oklahoma Law of Descent and Distribution.  For example: The estate of a husband who is survived by his wife and children (who are also children of the wife) is divided into two halves – one-half share goes to the wife and the other half is divided equally among the children.

Not all probates are lengthy

An estate valued at $200,000 or less qualifies for a summary probate.  The process is shorter than traditional probate and less costly.  Summary probate is also applicable if the decedent has been deceased for more than five years or was a resident of another state at the time of death.

Additionally, if a resident of another state owns property in Oklahoma, then traditional probate isn’t required either.  An ancillary probate may suffice.  Like a summary probate, an ancillary probate is much shorter than a traditional probate.

OKC Probate Lawyer

Dealing with a loved one’s estate while grieving is emotionally draining.  Let us take the stress out of it all by giving your case the attention it deserves.  We will provide solid support to help you navigate the process from start to finish.  Contact us today online or by telephone to get in touch with an OKC estate planning firm and speak to an OKC Probate Lawyer.