Oklahoma Living Wills, Probate, Trusts and Advanced Healthcare Directives

A person that has died without a valid will or trust, his or her property immediately becomes the property of the spouse, if any, without the need for probate. However, in cases where the surviving spouse does not automatically succeed to the decedent's property, then it is usually necessary to "probate the estate", whether or not the decedent had a valid will. A court having jurisdiction of the decedent's estate (often called a "probate court") supervises probate, in order to ensure the decedent's property is distributed according to the direction of his will and the laws of the state.

The will usually names an executor, a person tasked with carrying out the instructions laid out in the will. The executor's most common task is the marshalling of the decedent's assets throughout the probate process. If there is no will, or if the will does not name an executor, then the probate or other court having jurisdiction of the decedent's estate can appoint one. Traditionally, the representative of an intestate estate is called an administrator. The generic term for executors or administrators is "personal representative".

Avoiding Probate in Oklahoma

Probate can last several months, and sometimes over a year before all the property can be distributed. This can incur substantial court and attorney costs. One of the many ways to avoid probate is to execute a living trust. This is a separate entity to which a person transfers ownership of his real property (house, etc.,) from himself to a trust which he controls and can revise at any time (except in the case of an irrevocable trust.) Upon death, the persons named as beneficiaries in the trust acquire ownership of it and, therefore, the property the trust owns. As probate is a public process, a living trust has the added advantage of preserving the privacy of the deceased and his heirs as well as avoiding some estate tax.

It must be noted that avoiding probate does not necessarily mean estate taxes have also been avoided, as the laws imposing the federal estate tax have been modified to include within the definition of the person's taxable estate, property held in a living trust, life insurance, "payable on death" or "transfer on death" financial instruments, and most other property which is transferred from a dead person to a living person in consequence of the death.

Retaining legal counsel experienced in Oklahoma regarding the implementation of living wills & trusts, probate and other related laws, please contact Rick J. Henthorn, PLLC today at (405)354-6800 or by using our online contact form.

Oklahoma Divorce Lawyer
Rick J. Henthorn, PLLC
Attorney and Counselor at Law
P.O. Box 850559
Yukon, OK 73085
405-354-6800 (ofc)
405-265-3275 (fax)
info@henthornlaw.net