This is the next article in our series on probate and process in Oklahoma.  The last article focused on the order of inheritance in the case of an intestate (without a will) decedent.  This post focuses on the types of probate proceedings available in Oklahoma.

Probate may not be necessary

Firstly, you must check whether the decedent left any probate assets.  Any assets that pass through a last will or the laws of intestacy are called probate assets.  These generally include properties that are titled under the decedent’s name.

If the decedent’s assets are held in a living trust, as a joint tenancy, or under a business entity, those interests will pass outside the probate process.  Same applies to the assets with Transfer on Death or Payable on Death designations.  Thereby avoiding the proceeding altogether.  The estate may also avoid probate if the remainder of assets consists only of personal property (no real property) that is valued under $50,000.  This can be accomplished by executing an Oklahoma Small Estate Affidavit – which helps transfer personal assets such as vehicles and bank funds.  58 O.S. §393, §394, and 6 O.S. §906.

Types of probate in Oklahoma

You may be wondering if there is only one way to probate a loved one’s estate.  The good news is that there are three different types of proceedings in Oklahoma.  Depending on your circumstances, you can select the appropriate one.

Summary Probate

Summary probate is proper if the value of the estate is less than or equal to Two Hundred Thousand Dollars ($200,000), the decedent has been deceased for more than five (5) years, or the decedent resided in another state at the time of the death.  58 O.S. §245.  

This proceeding is much shorter than a traditional probate and usually completed within 8-10 weeks.  This type of probate is favored by heirs where a small piece of land or mineral interests valued below $200,000 are involved.  However, if the sale of any real estate is required during the proceeding, then a traditional probate maybe inevitable.

The petition filed must include the petitioner’s statement of interest, the decedent’s information, the last will (if there is one), all heirs, creditors, and the estate’s value.

Ancillary Probate

Ancillary probate is proper if the decedent who is not a resident of Oklahoma owns real property here.  58 O.S. §677.  It is much shorter than a traditional probate and can be completed typically within 6-10 weeks.  

The petition filed must include a certified copy of the last will (if one exists), an order admitting the will to the probate, and an order distributing the estate in the home state.  If the decedent died without a will, then an order appointing a personal representative and an order distributing the estate must be attached.

In short, an ancillary probate can be initiated in Oklahoma for a decedent who is a resident of another state but has real property here – provided that their estate has already been probated in that state.  Real property includes both the real estate and the mineral interests.

Traditional Probate

If neither the ancillary nor summary probate is appropriate for the decedent’s estate, then the only option you have left is the traditional probate.  The process is longer than both the summary and ancillary proceedings and typically takes 6-10 months.  Probate procedure can be found under Title 58 in Oklahoma Statutes.

You must speak to a probate lawyer if you are unsure which type of probate is appropriate in your case.  For instance, if a sale of real estate is necessary during the proceeding, then a summary probate is insufficient.  You may need to go through the traditional probate process.

The proceeding is initiated in the county where the decedent was a resident at the time of death.  A probate action broadly comprises of these steps:

  • Initiation of probate
  • Sending of notice of hearing
  • Personal representative appointment
  • Debtors and Creditors handling
  • Tax matters handling
  • Inventorying and valuation of assets
  • Order and distribution

OKC Probate Lawyer

Losing a loved one is emotionally challenging.  On top of that, trying to navigate the probate laws can be overwhelming.  Choosing the correct probate process can save you significant time and money.  Niroula Law is here to help.  We will give your case the attention it deserves while assisting you from start to finish.  Contact us online or by telephone to get in touch with an Estate planning law firm and speak to a probate lawyer.