This is the next article in our series on probate law and process in Oklahoma.  The previous post answered the question of whether probate can be avoided and the various tools to accomplish that.  This post focuses on the distribution of the decedent’s estate who dies intestate.  Dying intestate means that the person died without making a will.

What happens if you die without a will?

A person who dies owning property in their name but without disposing of it by will is said to have died intestate.  The function of a will, among other things, is to instruct how the assets are to be disposed of after death.  If you die without a will, then State law applies.  An intestate estate is distributed according to the Oklahoma law of descent and distribution.  84 O.S. § 213.

State law applies to only probate estate.  This includes assets owned by a decedent in their name and not disposed of by an estate plan. Conversely, the law of descent and distribution doesn’t apply to non-probate assets.  They pass either to the co-owner, trust beneficiary, or a designated beneficiary either under joint tenancy, living trust, or beneficiary designation.

Intestate succession in Oklahoma: who gets what?

If a person dies without leaving a will to distribute his estate, then State law kicks in.  The assets owned by the decedent will be distributed according to the Oklahoma Law of Descent and Distribution.  84 O.S. § 213.

Without a surviving spouse

The estate of the decedent who dies without a surviving spouse will be distributed to the children and the kids of any deceased child.  If there are no children, then the estate goes to the decedent’s parent or parents.  But if the person dies without leaving any kids or parents, then the estate goes to the siblings.  In case the person leaves no spouse, children, siblings, grandparent, uncle/aunt, or any next to kin, then the estate escheats to the State for the support of public schools.  84 O.S. § 213(B)(2).

With a surviving spouse

If there are no surviving children, parents, or siblings, then the entire estate goes to the surviving spouse.  If there are no surviving children but there are surviving parents or siblings, then the marital assets go to the spouse.  Additionally, the spouse gets an undivided one-third (1/3) interest in the remaining non-marital assets.

If the decedent leaves behind children and all of them are also children of the surviving spouse, then the spouse gets one-half (1/2) interest in all the property of the estate, including marital and non-marital assets.  The other half goes to the children in equal share.

However, if the decedent has children from someone other than the surviving spouse, then the spouse gets one-half (1/2) of the marital assets.  The other half of the marital estate goes to the children in equal share.  The non-marital assets are shared among the spouse and the children equally.  84 O.S. § 213(B)(1).

The share of a deceased child goes to their children by right of representation.

OKC Probate Lawyer

Whether you are amid a probate proceeding of a loved one or seeking estate planning, Niroula Law is here to help.  We will give your case the attention it deserves and help you navigate through the legal intricacies.  Contact us online or by telephone to get in touch with a probate and estate planning law firm and to speak to a probate lawyer.