Most people who write wills do so with the intent of avoiding any confusion regarding their estate after they die. Unfortunately, some Oklahoma City residents fail to complete their estate plan before their death. If this is the case, the probate court will likely step in to distribute assets to the surviving heirs. Many people will consider this to be against their interests, especially if they wish for certain property and personal items to be inherited by specific people.
According to Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute, a person dying without having a will is known as intestacy. The property in intestate estates is distributed according to each state’s inheritance laws.
Intestacy guidelines in Oklahoma are rather clear and uncomplicated, states the Oklahoma Bar Association. The following examples are what would most likely happen in a variety of intestate cases:
Decedent leaves behind a spouse and children – Property is divided evenly between the spouse and children.
Decedent leaves a spouse but no children – Assets are distributed between the spouse and the deceased’s parents or siblings.
Decedent leaves behind no surviving spouse – Estate goes to any children, parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts or next of kin.
There are no surviving relatives to be found – Property goes to the state.
There are many reasons to want to avoid an estate going into intestacy. For example, the surviving spouse might have children from another relationship and would want some of the inheritance to go to them. A person might wish for one child to inherit the family home, another to have the vehicles and other relatives to receive funds from a bank account.
Intestacy removes the personal nature from a will and creates an impersonal and impartial plan instead. For these reasons, it is recommended that all Oklahoma residents take the time to draw up a will and carefully consider how the assets should be divided.