Regardless of whether an individual died with a will (testate) or without a will (intestate), most estates will require traditional probate proceedings in Oklahoma. The probate laws of Oklahoma are set out in the Probate Procedure statutes.
Probate refers to the judicially administered process of offering a will of a testate decedent to a court of competent jurisdiction so that its directives may be officially carried out. Literally, it is “the act or process of proving a will.” Black’s Law Dictionary 557, (2nd Pocket Edition, 2001). Administration, on the other hand, generally refers to the judicially administered process disposing of an intestate decedent’s property. Id. at 16. Practically, both processes are referred to as “probate.”
Oklahoma probate can be a time consuming and challenging procedure, depending on a variety of factors including the following: the size of the deceased individual’s estate; the number of heirs claiming an interest in the estate; the amount of debt and number of debtors that the decedent might have had; the ownership of real estate and mineral interests; as well as many other factors. For this reason, most individuals find a great benefit in engaging an experienced probate attorney at Ball Morse Lowe to assist in navigating all of the potential challenges.
While there are many factors and every case is different, a general overview of traditional Oklahoma probate is as follows:
First, file the petition and set a hearing date. Notice must be given to heirs and other interested parties of the hearing to appoint a personal representative and admit the will (if there is a will).
Second, at the hearing, a personal representative must be appointed and the will admitted to probate.
Third, the personal representative must, within 2 months, give notice to creditors of the deceased individual. Notice is generally given by mail and newspaper publication.
Fourth, if necessary, state and federal tax returns should be filed.
Fifth, file the petition for final accounting and distribution of the estate. At this time, a hearing date should be set for not less than 20 days from the date the petition is filed.
Sixth, notice of the final hearing by mail and publication should be given to heirs and other interested parties.
Seventh, the personal representative should attend the final hearing in order to obtain a final order distributing the estate and discharging the personal representative from further responsibilities.
The above overview is not exhaustive, and it does not detail many of the responsibilities of the personal representative during the probate process.
If the deceased individual had multiple heirs, one of the most important roles of the personal representative is to communicate with the other heirs as the probate proceedings move forward. If the estate consists of many personal property items, the personal representative will often help facilitate the distribution of those items (with the assistance of an experience probate lawyer) to all of the heirs.
Oklahoma probate creates certain challenges that take special care and preparation to properly navigate. It is important to have an experienced probate attorney to properly walk through the process.
The attorneys at Ball Morse Lowe have built a respected reputation over the decades for providing sophisticated counsel in complex oil, gas, and energy law matters, business law cases, transactions, estate planning, and family law matters. We take pride in assisting individuals and families with their legal concerns. Personable and responsive, our lawyers craft documents and develop strategies tailored to each client's unique goals and needs.
Ball Morse Lowe, PLLC, is committed to providing excellent service and sound solutions to our clients in a cost-effective manner. From our law firms in Norman, Oklahoma City, Dallas, and Denver, our attorneys provide services throughout the Oklahoma City, DFW, and Denver Metros and in other states, including Texas, North Dakota, Ohio, Colorado, California, Wyoming and New Mexico.
Ball Morse Lowe is a recognized law firm that serves clients across Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado.
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Our firm is devoted to providing each client with all the resources of a large firm but with the individualized attention of a small practice. Unlike many other firms, we have the ability to conduct investigations, hire expert witnesses, and utilize cutting-edge technology to help you build the strongest case possible.
The lawyers at Ball Morse Lowe can help you seek what's needed in your case. Our team is standing by to assist you, so call us at (877) 508-4265 to get started with a free consultation with our client intake team.
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