Oklahoma Estate Attorneys, PLLC | Probate Attorney in Oklahoma City
Terrell Monks, Esq. and his team of skilled, experienced attorneys at Oklahoma Estate Attorneys, PLLC are experts in probate, estate planning, civil litigation, probate, and guardianships. For over 17 years, Terrell Monks, Esq. has been working to protect the rights of individuals and families. Attorney Monks is a respected member of the community and has been awarded many civil and business honors, and he takes a personalized approach to every client’s case or situation, providing one-on-one, unparalleled service, and counsel.
What Is Probate, and What Is the Role of a Probate Attorney in Oklahoma City?
When debt, real estate, tax issues, etc. have to be settled you’ll need an experienced probate attorney in Oklahoma City. Probate, simply defined, is the process that the court goes through to settle all legal and financial matters, tie up all loose ends, etc., after someone passes. In short, probate is the means by which a court of proper jurisdiction will distribute your estate.
For those who have taken the step to prepare a will in advance, the court will follow that legal plan. However, most people don’t get around to preparing a will, setting up a trust, or utilizing many, if any, of the estate planning tools available to them. You may be surprised to learn that without a legal will in place, you’re leaving important decisions about your life, your legacy, your loved ones, your financial holdings—all up to the court and an appointed administrator. If no will exists, or if there are some particular assets that have not been assigned to a beneficiary, then court-supervised probate is necessary. During the probate process, a will can be challenged, and the court may decide upon appropriate beneficiaries.
Probate is complex. Unfortunately, there’s no app for probate, it’s often an involved and lengthy process and you’ll want an experienced probate attorney in Oklahoma City to assist you.
Some Common Steps in the Probate Process | Probate Attorney in Oklahoma City
Validating a Will | Settling Authorizing Documents | Bonds
There are multiple steps in the probate process, and if there is an existing will in place, the first step will be to validate that will. In most states, an executor is expected to file a will as soon as possible after a decedent’s passing. Additionally, a death certificate would be filed and probate would be opened. The probate court judge will make the determination as to the will’s validity, which could include a hearing in which the listed beneficiaries will be given an opportunity to review the document and make their statements about it. A will may be validated by a self-proving affidavit of which the will grantor and the witnesses have previously signed off on, thus making it official.
Once probate is begun, the executor will receive and subsequently sign various letters of authority that legally state he or she will be overseeing the official matters regarding the estate. Your probate attorney in Oklahoma City should also advise you as to whether you should post bond, essentially insurance that serves to protect beneficiaries if the executor were to make an error during probate.
Determining Assets | Creditors & Debt | Taxes
During the probate process, an executor is required to identify all assets and determine their value. This process allows the executor to establish the ‘date of death’ values. This can be an involved process that requires research into a decedent’s banking, investment, and other accounts. A skilled probate attorney in Oklahoma City can assist with this sometimes arduous process. Property taxes, mortgage payments, and insurance must be considered and taken care of during the entire probate process as well.
Additionally, it is the executor’s responsibility to be in touch with the decedent’s creditors. Creditors may have a limited window in which to pursue the debt, and an executor may choose to challenge a claim as well. Challenges will be settled by the court. Debts may include many types of financial responsibilities such as medical bills, loans, etc. Taxes must be settled as well and paid off with estate funds. It is not uncommon for estate tax to run as high as 40% so you should certainly talk with an experienced probate attorney in Oklahoma City. There are many angles and options to consider and this is why everyone should consult with a skilled estate planning and probate attorney in Oklahoma City, preferably long before probate occurs. A properly designed estate plan will help to facilitate any probate process that comes later.
Distributing Assets & Property
The court will confirm that all taxes and debts have been taken care of and then the distribution of assets and property will begin. The distribution will be determined by the will but if there is no will in place the court shall, in most cases, divide any remaining assets and property between the immediate family members, and a surviving spouse is typically the highest priority when this situation occurs.
Oklahoma Estate Attorneys, PLLC | Skilled, Tested, Respected Probate Attorneys in Oklahoma City
Oklahoma Estate Attorneys, PLLC is a firm comprised of skilled attorneys who understand probate; it’s what we do. Many issues that arise during probate may have been resolved by a proper estate plan. Probate can sometimes cut into the financial awards that beneficiaries were slated to receive; therefore, it is wise to seek counsel early from a skilled estate planning and probate attorney in Oklahoma City, before an unexpected death pushes you suddenly into a probate process that could diminish your family’s financial security.
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