We understand that Oklahoma probate law is complex. Families are often surprised at just how complicated the probate process can be in Oklahoma. Although there is no law or requirement by the probate court that requires you to hire an Oklahoma probate lawyer, doing so can be highly beneficial.
Ball Morse Lowe’s probate lawyers provide free consultations and thoughtful, individualized solutions to their clients' Oklahoma probate issues. We provide both fixed-fee and hourly tailored solutions, depending on the probate issue.
How Can an Oklahoma City Probate Attorney Help You?
An Oklahoma City probate attorney can provide help to you in many different circumstances.
Some common probate issues in Oklahoma County include:
- Small estate affidavits
- Traditional probate matters that are heard in Oklahoma County
- Contested probate matters (known as estate litigation)
At Ball Morse Lowe, probate attorneys assist clients going through probate regardless of whether they are family members or executors. We represent our clients going through probate with estate administration or other probate issues such as estate litigation. Experienced legal counsel can also assist the personal representative with estate taxes as well. Although Oklahoma does not have a “death tax,” the personal representative is required to complete the final federal and state taxes on the decedent’s behalf. Depending on the size of the estate, federal estate taxes may be an issue.
Probate services also include working with estate attorneys to establish powers of attorney. Powers of attorney are documents that give you the ability to appoint another person to make decisions on your behalf.
Because Oklahoma is an oil and gas state, it is important that you choose a law office that has years of experience working within the complexities in both oil and gas and Oklahoma probate law. Ball Morse Lowe practices in both oil and gas and probate law. Therefore, our years of experience as legal counsel practicing in both areas are very beneficial to our clients who have estates with mineral rights or who plan to leave their rights to others.
Ball Morse Lowe also provides estate planning and probate education. By taking advantage of estate planning tools, some of your assets may be able to avoid the Oklahoma probate process. One of our trust lawyers or probate lawyers would be happy to talk with you more about how estate planning and probate go hand-in-hand in Oklahoma. The initial consultation with Ball Morse Lowe’s Oklahoma probate lawyers is free.
What Is Probate Law?
Probate law is a group of statutes that governs several areas, but it is primarily thought of as statutes that determine what happens to the deceased’s assets when they pass away. While this is true, it also determines what makes up a valid will. It also explains how long creditors have to submit their claims to the estate to get paid.
If the deceased resided in Oklahoma City or Oklahoma County at the time of death, their probate matter would be filed in the Oklahoma County Probate Court. However, if they owned property outside of the state, the probate matter can become more complex if you’re the estate administrator attempting to handle it on your own.
Handling Oklahoma Probate Issues Can Be Difficult
Probate law can be complicated. Although the Oklahoma Bar Association offers the public forms related to various Oklahoma probate proceedings, they cannot represent you if you’re going through probate. The Oklahoma Bar Association's only options are to either refer you to an attorney or to tell you to use a lawyer directory to find probate lawyers in Oklahoma City.
Going through probate may be simpler if there is a will, but it may not be without its issues. A will explains how the deceased wanted their assets distributed. However, estate administration must still take place. Even then, emotion often runs high among family members. This could lead to probate litigation in the future. A probate attorney can assist throughout the matter to help get you through the process and represent you in probate court.
If there is no will, Oklahoma probate law dictates what happens to the deceased’s assets. Depending on the number of assets and potential heirs, the probate process can take a significant amount of time. If estate litigation occurs, it could take even longer.
Marriage, children, retirement accounts, bank accounts, how property (including real estate) is titled, whether the real estate is owned out of county or out of state…those are just a few of the probate issues that could occur in a single probate matter. An executor or estate administrator would be the person appointed to oversee these matters. An Oklahoma City probate attorney assists clients going through probate by guiding them through probate law and probate court.
Estate Administration: Obligations, Family Members, & Potential Estate Litigation
Estate administration is not simple. There are many fiduciary obligations that they must adhere to under Oklahoma probate law. The obligations that must be completed depend on the type of probate that is being completed. The type of probate matter depends on the size and nature of the estate. Some of the estate administration obligations include:
- Completing an estate inventory
- Getting valuations, when necessary (this includes real estate)
- Notifying family members about the death
- Attending probate court hearings
- Paying creditors
- Filing the final tax returns for the deceased and the, if necessary, the estate
- Distributing the assets to the beneficiaries
- Filing the final reports with the probate court
Family members can often feel the stress of the loss. They may also decide that they aren’t getting what they feel they deserve and look to estate litigation as a potential solution. Estate litigation can be complicated for you to handle on your own regardless of whether or not you are a family member or the estate administrator. Sometimes there are legitimate causes to file estate litigation, but these probate issues should be examined case-by-case.
Probate and Guardianship: Probate Issues for Parents
There are specific probate issues for parents that must be considered. The first issue is guardianship. Who will be named to take care of your children under the age of 18 if you die? This person should be named in your will. The second issue is to consider trust estates. How will your assets be used to care for your children after your death? The most common way to do this is through the use of trusts.
However, if you have children with special needs, you may need to take advantage of a special needs trust. This type of trust is used to protect your child’s ability to access Social Security Disability Income, Medicaid, and other special services they may need.
These particular probate matters highlight the importance of discussing your estate and probate needs with an Oklahoma City probate attorney.
Probate Litigation in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Probate litigation can be scary and stressful for everyone involved. Maybe a creditor is involved, or maybe it is a family member involved. It could involve the payment of probate expenses or taxes. At heart, probate litigation is any matter that challenges the legality of what is currently happening or what happened in the probate matter. The most common examples in Oklahoma Probate Court include:
- Challenging the validity of the will
- Contesting guardianship over a minor appointed because of the death of a parent
- Contesting who received assets from the estate during estate administration
- Creditors who did not receive a payment or who did not receive a payment amount that they wanted
Whether you are a family member or the estate administrator, you do not have to face probate litigation on your own. The Oklahoma City probate lawyers of Ball Morse Lowe have the experience you need to help.
Help You Can Trust with Oklahoma City Probate Matters
Are you looking for help you can trust with your Oklahoma City probate matters? Ball Morse Lowe’s Oklahoma City probate attorneys are here for you. With free initial consultations, we’re a law firm that offers custom solutions specifically designed for the probate issues you’re facing. Ball Morse Lowe provides the best Oklahoma probate experience for clients. Schedule your free consultation now.