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Oklahoma Probate Lawyers

When an estate is actually released to its heirs, there is a process involved with doing so in most cases. This process in Oklahoma is known as the probate process, and the term ‘probate’ refers to the type of court that oversees the execution of an estate. People have come to attach a negative connotation to the probate process, but that’s not always accurate.

Privett Law has helped innumerable clients handle their estates and oversee their wishes through the probate process in Oklahoma, and if you’d like to gain an understanding of how this process would apply to your individual situation, please contact the firm to schedule an initial consultation.

The probate process in Oklahoma can involve several steps, depending in the size of the estate involved and the instruments used to administer the estate after the testator has passed away. Below are a few issues that can arise with an estate.

Probate – What does it mean?

Probate is the term used to describe the transfer of estate property, and it’s overseen by the courts in Oklahoma. Basically, when a person dies and has left a will, the will or instrument at issue will be presented to the court in order to prove that it’s valid, which is also the time when any challenges to its validity will occur.

Other issues that are handled at this point in the probate process include identifying all of the estate property that’s to be transferred, including a full inventory of goods if necessary, totaling the assets that are within the estate, and then paying any valid debts and/or taxes from the estate. When this process is complete, the remaining property is distributed in accordance with the wishes of the person who wrote the will or instrument.

How is property distributed at probate?

Usually, the person who has passed away, otherwise known in legal terms as the decedent, appoints an executor to his or her estate. The executor makes sure that the debts and taxes are paid, that the accounts, property and assets are valid, and then he or she sees to it that this remaining property is distributed according to the wishes of the decedent.

How do probate challenges work?

Basically, anyone who feels he or she has a legitimate reason to challenge a will and the resulting estate distribution needs to do so at the probate hearing that is described above. This hearing is for the purposes of taking a full accounting of the estate and to receive these challenges. A party who feels wronged could challenge the estate based on the premise of a mistaken omission, an invalid codicil to the will that was written under duress or undue influence by one of the beneficiaries, among many other issues.

At this point, the court will generally make a decision as to the validity of the challenge, but if the issue is complicated, an entirely separate hearing and process could be scheduled for arguments to be heard and evidence to be presented. These are generally intensely emotional battles, as they can often pit one family member against another.

Forms of Probate in Oklahoma

Oklahoma has two different ‘forms’ of probate, and one of them is supervised probate. This is not a positive option, as it’s time-consuming and expensive, as the court must oversee and approve every transaction as it relates to an estate. Unsupervised probate is much more efficient, as the court plays very little role in the estate transfer process other than to validate the will and authorize the executor to distribute the estate.

Is there a way to avoid the probate process in Oklahoma?

Yes, it’s possible, but in order to do so you need to take a very strategic approach to your estate. For instance, depending in the sort of assets you hold and the number and type of beneficiaries who will be inheriting your estate’s property, a trust could be a solid option, as some trusts that activate upon the death of the original party could avoid the probate process altogether in Oklahoma, but in order to find out how this could work for you, you’ll need the help of an estate planning lawyer.

Your Next Step

The bottom line in regards to the probate process in Oklahoma is that if it’s possible, the role of the probate court should be minimized as much as possible, as the more involved the probate court gets, the more expensive it becomes for everyone involved and the more time it takes for the estate to be handled.

If you’re thinking of getting your affairs in order in a manner that will provide the least amount of stress and expense for those you leave behind, contact Privett Law today to schedule an initial consultation.