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Is Probate Necessary When A Spouse Dies In Oklahoma?

Sometimes probate is necessary when a married person passes away. For example, if the deceased spouse held title to real estate in their own name, it is highly likely that probate is going to be necessary to move ownership of that real estate. If the deceased person owned property in more than one state, then more than one probate is likely to be necessary.

If a deceased person held financial accounts, life insurance, or retirement accounts without payable on death beneficiary designations on them, it is very likely that a probate is going to be necessary. If the accounts are under $50,000 in total, then it may be possible to transfer ownership of these accounts to the persons entitled to receive them.

My Loved One, Who Passed Away, Left A Last Will And Testament. Can’t We Just Follow The Will And Distribute The Property According To Their Wishes?

The general rule, which is contained in the Oklahoma statutes, is that the deceased person’s property is under the supervision of the probate court for the purposes of distribution and administration. The probate procedure assures that the deceased person’s debts have been paid prior to the distribution of assets. This is for the protection of creditors as well as the protection of the family. It is protection for the creditors, as it requires someone to give them notice of the opportunity to file their claims against the estate. It is protection for the family because it shortens the length of time the creditors have to make their claims. It also assures that the creditors will not come after the family members later if they took the decedent’s assets without paying the bills. You are not allowed to administer an estate and distribute under a last will and testament without court approval and following the legal process.

Will An Estate Need To Be Probated In Oklahoma If The Decedent Passed Away As A Resident Of Another State?

The state where real estate is located is the only state with jurisdiction to control who receives that real estate, on what terms, and after which procedure. Compare this to personal property, such as bank accounts or automobiles; those will pass under the law and procedure of the deceased person’s domiciliary state. But only the state which is the location of the real estate has the authority to transfer title within that state. Therefore, if a grandmother had mineral rights in Oklahoma County, there is likely to be a probate in Oklahoma County to transfer ownership of those mineral rights, even if the grandmother passed away as a resident of California.

What Is Considered A Small Estate In Oklahoma?

There are two levels of small estate administration procedures in Oklahoma. If the estate contains no real property and it is under $50,000, we can often transfer ownership of the estate assets to those entitled to receive them without going through court. It is a relatively inexpensive process and it is usually very quick. The next step up is for estates under $250,000. These estates can sometimes use the summary probate process, which is usually about $1,000 cheaper than a full probate. The Summary Probate does have some shortcomings, however. There are times when it can be greatly beneficial and cut the probate time in half as well as save money. Unfortunately, this small estate procedure does not have a good set of rules for how to deal with issues such as pretermitted heirs, claims by creditors, and will contests.

What Is An Ancillary Probate In Oklahoma?

An ancillary probate is a short form of probate that can occasionally be used when the deceased person’s estate has already been successfully administered in his or her home state. The court orders of distribution, last will and testament, and notice to creditors can usually be imported into the Oklahoma probate process and used to drastically shorten the time that the case is pending. This process also can be hundreds of dollars cheaper than a full probate. Unfortunately, many states do not have probate procedures that contain the documents necessary to complete an ancillary probate. This regularly forces us to go through a full probate, even when another probate went forward in the decedent’s home state.

For more information on Probate Upon Death Of Spouse In Oklahoma, a free 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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