Probate is the legal process by which the court system distributes your property, pays your debts, and settles disputes after your death. During probate, the court supervises the processes that transfer legal title of property from the estate of the person who has died (the “Decedent”) to his or her beneficiaries.
If there is a valid Will, the property goes to the named beneficiaries. If the decedent left no Will, assets are distributed according to the Oklahoma State laws of intestate succession.
A probate proceeding can be lengthy, costly, and it involves public hearings. Various legal strategies that will allow you to pass property to another person after death, without going through probate are described in the Estate Planning page of this website.
If the person who has died (the “Decedent”) owned real property in Oklahoma, such as a house, land, or minerals interests, you will most likely need to start a probate proceedings in order to transfer legal title to these types of interests.
A probate case is to be filed in the county where the person has died or, if the Decedent was a non-resident of Oklahoma, in the county where he or she owned real property.
Generally, any heir at law, executor (if applicable), person named in a Will, or any other person interested in the estate (such as a creditor), may at any time after the death of a person, petition the court having jurisdiction to administer the Decedent’s estate.
In specific situations, when an estate is worth $50,000.00 or less, Oklahoma laws allow for the use of an Affidavit to collect and distribute certain financial assets and/or personal property belonging to the Decedent.
A man or woman who makes a Will is known as a testator. A person who dies with a valid Will is said to have died testate, while a person who does not have a valid Will at the time of death has died intestate.