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.
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I felt like I mattered. I felt like what I had to say was important. Glenn was thoughtful, encouraging and understanding. She helped me navigate the process and validated my thoughts about things I was not sure. Thank you Glenn!!! It was great working with you!
I turned to Ball Morse Lowe, PLCC when I needed my mother's estate probated in Oklahoma. It involved mineral rights and I live in California and my mother had not lived in OK for over 60 years. I wanted a firm that would do this correctly and be reasonable in cost. Jennifer Wright was a pleasure to work with. She and her staff were professional, knowledgeable, friendly and helpful. They made the experience of probate painless, explained things as we went along, and were clear in their expectation of what they would need from me to move the process forward. I am so glad I found them and appreciate deeply all they accomplished on my behalf.