Oklahoma Probate: Can You Do It on Your Own?
Oklahoma probate is a legal process that takes place in the district court. The internet is rife with many misconceptions surrounding probate, which can be confusing. As Oklahoma probate attorneys, Ball Morse Lowe is pleased to shed light on estate planning, the probate court, and the legal process known as the probate procedure.
In this blog post, you will learn the following probate facts:
- Whether the legal process of Oklahoma probate is complicated
- Whether you can get through an Oklahoma probate case on your own
- Whether you should handle a probate case on your own
- What you should do if you live out of state and the probate matter is filed in an Oklahoma district court
- More about the different types of probate in Oklahoma
- The cost of a probate attorney in Oklahoma
- How the probate attorney is paid
- Whether you should hire a probate attorney to help you with the legal process.
This blog post is educational and informational in nature. It is not meant as a substitute for legal advice. Schedule a free consultation with Ball Morse Lowe now if you need legal advice about Oklahoma probate matters.
Is the Legal Process of Oklahoma Probate Complicated?
The legal process of Oklahoma probate can be complicated. How probate works can change depending on whether there is a will, the size of the estate, and if there is real estate located outside of the state. You will learn more about the different types of probate cases later in this post.
When a will is involved, probate in Oklahoma is different from how probate works if there is no will. If there is a will, the probate process begins with the district court validating the will. Then, the personal representative is named to administer the estate.
Usually, the personal representative is named from the will. Letters testamentary are issued to the personal representative so that they can begin the process of estate administration.
If there is no will, Oklahoma law requires that the probate court appoint a personal administrator. Additionally, the steps of Oklahoma probate then rely on intestate law instead of following the will when the time comes to distribute estate assets to heirs. The intestacy process can cause complications, especially considering there are often interested parties that believe they are entitled to estate assets from the deceased when they aren’t or do not receive as much of a share of the estate assets as they believe they should have received.
Whether or not there is a will, there are instances where the deceased and the surviving spouse may not have been on good terms. They may not have lived together. Therefore, an adult child, sibling, or another person may be appointed as personal representative.
If there is a will, the deceased may have taken specific measures to provide minimally or not at all for the surviving spouse if they were in the process of going their separate ways. Some surviving spouses may be under the misguided impression that Oklahoma is a community property state. We are not a community property state, even in probate case matters. However, real estate held in the names of both spouses at the time of death transfers to the surviving spouse, regardless of how well they got along.
Creditors and family members may also decide the probate procedure mistreated them. If they do, things can quickly get very complicated. This can occur at the beginning of the probate case or after the final accounting is completed.
Can I Get Through Probate in Oklahoma on My Own?
The steps of Oklahoma probate can be complicated. Whether you can get through your probate matter on your own depends on the facts involved and whether you have the time to devote to getting through it.
Some of the steps of Oklahoma probate you’ll be required to fulfill include:
- To complete the process of the collection of personal property of the deceased
- To complete and file an inventory of the estate assets with the probate court
- Ensure that the proper notice of death is placed in the local newspaper so that creditors know to file their claims against the estate
- Distributing the remainder of the estate assets after paying the debts and taxes of the deceased
The Oklahoma probate procedure can take a lot of time. It can also involve quite a bit of emotional strain. The time and emotional impact to complete the probate procedure come in addition to your existing responsibilities.
Do I need a Trust or Will?
Should I Handle a Probate Case on My Own?
Before you decide to handle your probate case independently, you should consult with an Oklahoma probate attorney. In some instances, the steps of Oklahoma probate are quite simple. This is most often the case for small estates.
However, the requirements and potential complications for your probate case could be different for similar matters. Even if there are only assets and no debts that you know of, specific steps must be followed under probate law.
Before you decide to handle your probate case on your own, schedule your free consultation with Ball Morse Lowe’s Oklahoma probate attorneys.
What If I Live Out of State?
Living out of state can make the Oklahoma probate procedure more difficult. Particularly if you are the personal administrator, several probate court hearings require your presence. This includes being present when the letters testamentary are issued, to file an inventory of the assets, when creditors appear and may object to how their claims are treated, when the final accounting is filed with the court, and if heirs contest the probate process.
If you live out of state, it can be quite challenging to take care of all of these matters, let alone if there are other issues that you may need to care of in person, such as state and federal tax preparation or having specific real property or real estate assessed.
What Are the Types of Probate in Oklahoma?
There are generally three types of probate in Oklahoma.
Traditional probate is the probate procedure that most people fear. It takes the full attention of the district court. It is what we’ve described in this blog post. The law requires this method of probate for estates with assets worth more than $50,000.
What Is the Cost of a Probate Attorney in Oklahoma?
The cost of a probate attorney in Oklahoma depends on:
- Whether they are hired on an hourly or flat-fee basis
- Their rate
- The difficulty of the probate case for which they are hired.
Because each matter is different, you should seek a consultation to get an accurate quote. This is true even if you have a small estate that enables you to use a small estate affidavit. Even small estate affidavits can come with their own complications. Schedule your free consultation now with the Oklahoma probate attorneys of Ball Morse Lowe.
Oklahoma Probate: How Is the Attorney Paid?
In Oklahoma probate cases, the attorney hired is generally paid by the person who chose to hire them. For example, if family members decided that they needed an attorney to represent them to ensure they received their fair share of estate assets, they would be required to pay the attorney. The same would be true if the personal representative chose to hire an attorney.
However, the probate court may approve payment of attorney fees out of the estate upon application by the personal representative.
Should I Hire a Probate Attorney to Help with the Legal Process?
Now that you understand some of the basics regarding the legal process of Oklahoma probate and some of the potential complications, you may be looking at the idea of hiring a probate attorney in a different light.
Whether you want to hire a probate attorney may depend on the potential complications you think could arise and whether you have the time and the emotional energy to take care of the entire process. At the very least, you may want to talk with an Oklahoma probate attorney to determine if hiring an attorney is beneficial to you.