16th May 2011

What is probate?    

The word probate derives from the Latin word meaning “to prove.”  One simple definition of probate is a legal procedure where certain facts are “proven” when someone dies.

The items generally proven during the probate process in Oklahoma are:

1.  That someone in fact died.  This helps prevent fraud and provide legal certainty.

2.  Whether the person who died had a valid Will or not.  This helps to assure the most recent will (usually formally called Last Will and Testament) or codicil (change to a will) is found, as well as to assure fraudulent or altered documents are not used.    

3.  Who the Heirs (close family members) are.  This ensures close family members are all informed of the process.

4.  What Property is in the estate & the details of estate administration.  This ensures close family members (heirs) and those named in the will (devisees & legatees) are all informed of the property owned at death and the details of administration after death – particularly what income came into the estate and what expenses were paid out of the estate.  This promotes disclosure and deters dishonest administration.

5.  That all Taxes are paid.  This assures all legitimate taxes are paid – including income taxes, estate taxes, and property taxes.

6.  That all Creditors are paid.  This assures legal debts are determined and dealt with.

7.  Who the estate Property should be distributed to.  Ultimately, the Court distributes out the estate property to the correct persons in the correct amounts.

Other important issues can arise in probate, such as guardianship issues for minor children and issues surrounding the sale of estate property, but the list above contains the main issues “proven” in most probate procedures in Oklahoma.

If our office may be of assistance to you in these areas, do not hesitate to contact us at (580) 338-6503 or at coryhicks@fieldandhicks.com or using any of our contact information in the profile.  You can also visit www.fieldandhicks.com for more information. 

This blog contains general information and the opinions of the author – not legal advice; you should seek the advice of competent counsel (attorney/lawyer) when considering any legal issues. 

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