Assessing Heirs, Contesting Wills, And Evaluating Probate In Oklahoma
In this article, you will learn about:
- How heirs are delegated in the event of someone dying without a will.
- The timeline for will and estate contesting in Oklahoma.
- Where probate must occur in Oklahoma.
Who Are The Heirs To The Estate When Someone Dies Without A Will In Oklahoma?
The simplest way to determine who the heirs to the estate are without a will is by identifying the closest living relatives of the deceased. The way your attorney will be able to determine who the heirs are is by going to Title 84, Section 213 of the Oklahoma Statutes. They will reference Section B because this section applies to everyone who dies after July 1st, 1985. From this resource, they will gather instructions on how to determine who the closest living relatives are.
Many people find it very surprising that when a person dies without last will and testament, the surviving spouse of that person does not inherit everything. Although it seems intuitively correct that the surviving spouse would inherit everything, Oklahoma law states that is often not the case. Additionally, Oklahoma statutes state that the same people who are determined to be heirs to the decedent’s estate are also entitled to receive notice of any probate of the will, even if the will doesn’t include them. Determining the heirs at law is one of the most important steps done when working through an estate administration or probate of a will.
How Long Do You Have To Contest A Will Or An Estate In Oklahoma?
When a will is filed for probate, the petitioner is required to give notice to anyone listed as inheriting and the closest living relatives under the Oklahoma statutes. The petitioner is required to mail notice of the hearing at least 10 days in advance, and if someone wants to contest the will, they may appear at the first hearing and by filing the grounds for their protest. Further, there will be an additional 90 days that the will can be contested following the court’s order admitting the will to probate. After the will has been admitted to probate for three months, then it is very difficult and often impossible to contest it. In summary, if you believe that there is an improper will being presented, you must move quickly in order to establish that you have the right to contest it.
Where Must A Probate Occur?
A general rule concerning the correct place for probate to occur is in the deceased person’s county of residence (which is not necessarily where they died). For example, if a person passes away in Ohio but is a confirmed resident of Oklahoma, probate should be conducted in Oklahoma. However, many cases are not that easy.
In another scenario where an individual is in their final years of life and is compelled to sell their home and admit themselves to a nursing home in another county, there could be confusion over which of these two counties was their legal residence. With this in mind, there is a line of cases that indicates that one’s residence is a matter of intent.
If that person was of sound mind when they went into an assisted living center, and they changed the address on something like their driver’s license, there is a valid argument that they have officially changed their residence to a new county. The county that they lived in assisted living in this situation could be the county to conduct probate.
On the other hand, if that person was living in their own home and suffered a devastating stroke and ended up in the adjoining county before the house was sold, then most likely the original county would remain that person’s county of residence, even though they passed away in the adjoining county.
It is worth noting that there are multiple variations of this question, including questions like:
- What if the deceased person owned mineral rights in Oklahoma but never lived there?
- What if the deceased person had a bank account in Bank of America, and there was never probate that occurred in their state of residence?
- Where else can we do the probate?
These questions can get very convoluted and confusing, which is why it is important to figure them out correctly under state law with a qualified attorney. Something to consider is that the Oklahoma legislature is assessing whether that statute should be amended or not, and if it does, the legislature would provide more guidance concerning where probate can and should take place in Oklahoma.
For more information on Heirs To An Estate Where The Decedent Had No Will, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (405) 754-4166 today.
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