When considering your estate planning, you may want to know how some of your assets will be handled when it comes to probate. Probate is the process through which a will is legitimized. According to Oklahoma law, the probate procedure can include valuing estates, selling property, paying debts and distributing assets.
Some people wish to try to avoid probate because it can take a significant amount of time and can be a burden for family members. There are several ways that assets can circumvent the process, including the following:
- Assets that are jointly owned: If you own something jointly with a spouse or other party, and the asset would include the right of survivorship, then it would not need to go through probate. For example, a marital home would simply transfer to your spouse.
- Items in a living trust: If you create a living trust, you can place just about any asset in it, such as bank accounts and real estate. Name yourself as the trustee and name a successor trustee, who will take over after your passing.
- Transfer- or payable-on-death accounts, vehicles or real estate: Items such as certain bank accounts, stocks and bonds can be designated to go to someone else after your death. You must list a beneficiary on these accounts for them to bypass probate.
As the Oklahoma Bar Association points out, if you pass away without a will in place, the state will allocate property based on the law of descent and distribution. Through this law, your spouse and children would share any property left behind. If you wish for another arrangement, it would be wise to create a will and use any of the above measures to ensure your assets go to whomever you wish.
While this information is useful, it should not be taken as legal advice.