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Oklahoma Estate Attorneys, PLLC.

Addressing Death Certificates For Probate, As Well As What To Do If The Decedent Doesn’t Leave A Will


In this article, you will learn about:

  • The role death certificates play in the probate process.
  • What to do if a family member did not leave a will.
  • If probate is required without a will in the state of Oklahoma.

Do You Need A Death Certificate For A Probate?

It is very helpful to have a death certificate if you are going to conduct probate. There is no state statute that says that you must have a death certificate, but generally, a death certificate has much of the information required for the probate process. For example, you must know where the deceased person passed away because if they passed away in a hospital, that hospital will be presumed to be one of the creditors given notice in probate. Given that the place of death is usually indicated on the death certificate, it is very helpful to have records for both beneficiaries and any legal personnel involved. So, the death certificate is often very useful, but is not always absolutely required for probate.

My Family Member Died But She Did Not Leave A Will. What Do I Need To Do?

One of the first things you should do is contact our office to obtain the estate administration questionnaire. This will help you keep track of the questions to ask, and the information you should find. Generally, it will consist of questions such as identifying the closest living relatives of the person who passed away. The best way to do this is by considering:

  • Were they married?
  • Did they ever have any children?
  • Did they ever give up any children for adoption?
  • Do they have any deceased children?

Once you have identified the individuals who are closest in relation to the deceased person, you then should find their addresses and contact information. These people will be entitled to receive notice of the probate process, so having their addresses and contact information available to share this information is important for legally sufficient communication. If you cannot find all of the contact information you need, an attorney can generally help you do a “good faith” search for those relatives to ensure that all measures possible were taken to find them.

Next, it is advisable to gather a list of all of the deceased person’s assets. These assets can include things such as a gun collection, a safety deposit box at a bank, real estate, mineral rights, or vehicles. Compiling a list of these items and identifying where they are and their value is important to the process. Additionally, it may also be helpful to watch the mail for incoming documents such as life insurance bills, bank statements, and insurance bills as all of these pieces of correspondence can help you accurately identify the assets that belonged to the decedent.

Finally, you will then need to gather all of the deceased person’s bills to the best of your abilities. These bills would include property taxes, credit cards, mortgages, car payments, and other similar financial statements. These creditors are entitled to receive a notice of the individual’s passing, and they will have a few weeks to file a claim if they contend that the deceased person owed them money.

Once you have compiled these things, there will be additional necessary steps to fully resolve the estate. However, this is a very good way to start the process when a family member dies without a will.

When Someone Dies Without A Will In Oklahoma, Does That Mean Probate Is Necessary?

When someone dies without a will in Oklahoma, this does not mean that the probate court is required. For example, if the decedent doesn’t own anything, there is no need for probate, and this happens more frequently than one might expect. Additionally, if the estate of the deceased person contains no real estate, and if the value of what the deceased person owns is $50,000 or less, probate can sometimes be avoided by use of the small estate affidavit. However, it is worth noting that this affidavit is only useful when the deceased person does not have any debts.

If the decedent did have debts, things can become a bit more difficult, and in some cases, the use of the affidavit is prohibited. Nonetheless, when the affidavit is used, the process is relatively quick and drastically less expensive than the probate process. Because of this, our firm prefers to utilize this process in order to save our clients time and money.

Ultimately, there are situations where the deceased person leaves real estate and assets significantly greater than $50,000 and has done a good job of setting up beneficiaries on their accounts as well as on their deed. In this scenario, these accounts and deeds can flow to the beneficiaries outside of probate, saving $4,000 to $10,000 as a result. Although some of these plans don’t work out as smoothly as hoped, whenever probate can be avoided in Oklahoma it is usually of great financial benefit to everyone involved in the resolution of the decedent’s estate.

For more information on Death Certificate Requirement For Probate, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (405) 754-4166 today.

Terrell Monks, Esq. - Estate Planning Attorney, Edmond City

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(405) 754-4166

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