7th Jun 2011
As discussed in the last blog entry, one simple definition of probate is a legal procedure where certain facts are “proven” when someone dies. That post listed several items that are generally proven during the probate process in Oklahoma. The traditional use of the word probate centered around the #2 item on that list: whether the person who died had a valid Will or not.
Whether the deceased person has a valid Will or not affects at least two important areas in probate: a) who receives the deceased person’s property and under what terms; and b) who manages the deceased person’s estate.
Who receives the deceased person’s property & under what terms
If a person dies owning property in their own name in Oklahoma, that property will pass in one of two ways: through a Will or through Intestacy (no Last Will and Testament) laws.
With some limited exceptions (for example, you generally cannot completely disinherit a spouse), when a person makes a valid Will, the terms of the Will determine who receives their property. The person making the Will can also determine how the property is distributed. For example, the Will can instruct that the property be distributed to a beneficiary immediately or in installments over time or once they reach a certain age.
If a person dies without a Will, the Intestacy laws of Oklahoma determine who receives the estate property, specifically Okla. Stat. tit. 84 § 213. In addition, there is generally little, if any, flexibility in how it will be distributed.
Who manages the deceased person’s estate
When a person makes a valid Will, the terms of the Will determine who manages their estate. In addition, the person making a Will can give (or limit) certain powers as well as leave specific instructions to the person who manages their estate.
If a person dies without a Will, the laws of Oklahoma determine who manages the estate, specifically Okla. Stat. tit. 58 § 122, and the powers they have.
There are other important issues with respect to probate and Wills which are outside the scope of this blog entry. The purpose of this blog entry is to highlight a couple of the main issues in probate affected by whether someone dies with a valid Will or not.
If our office may be of assistance to you in these areas, do not hesitate to contact us at (580) 338-6503 or at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.