18th Apr 2011

What happens to the Oklahoma property of someone who dies a resident of another state?

Our office frequently receives important questions along these lines.  Depending on the type and amount of property owned (which must be looked at closely in every case), the family, friends, or others handling the estate and affairs of the deceased person have the following main options or “paths”:

Option #1:  Follow Oklahoma’s “True” Ancillary Probate Path – Okla. Stat. tit. 58 § 677

To use this statute, you must have (or will have at some point) certified copies of these three documents from the state of residence:

A.  The will, if any;
B.  The order admitting (if there was a will) or the order appointing (if there was no will);
C.  The order distributing.

If these three documents can be obtained, then the requirements of the statute must be followed, including dealing with creditors. The ancillary path can potentially shorten the probate process and save time and money.  (I call it the “true” ancillary path because many times the phrase is misused to describe something other that this statute and the abbreviated process it provides.)

However, many times, there is no order distributing, whether because of a more informal/independent administration process in the home state or otherwise.  If all three documents cannot be obtained, the ancillary statute cannot be used.    

Option #2:  Follow Oklahoma’s Traditional Probate Path

Generally, if the ancillary path described cannot be used, then the best option is to follow the traditional Oklahoma probate path.

Option #3:  Follow Oklahoma’s Summary Probate Path

The summary probate path can be a good option in certain circumstances.  (At times it may be the only real option – for instance, if only a certified copy of a will can be obtained.)  But, the summary path does not save much expense, and its strict procedure can increase the chance of mistakes or oversights.  It also is not a good option if any of the property involved in the estate needs to be sold quickly.  If chosen, this path must be followed very carefully.

Option #4:  Follow the Affidavit Paths in Certain Limited Circumstances

If the deceased person’s property consists only of personal property and is below a certain value, or if the property consists only of mineral interests (according to a new law), there may be an affidavit option.  Affidavits are only possible in very limited situations and have a number of issues that must be considered – for instance, how long it takes to obtain marketable title after a mineral affidavit. 

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. 

The blog above contains general information and the opinions of the author – not legal advice; you should seek competent counsel when considering and following any of the paths or any other important legal decisions.

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