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How Much Does an Estate Have to be Worth to Go to Probate in Oklahoma?

Going through probate is no simple task, but the process does not need to be daunting.

If you have any questions related to probating a will in the state of Oklahoma, contact the Seda Law Firm. As a trusted probate attorney in the state, we are here to answer your questions and guide you through the process every step of the way.

How Much Does an Estate Have to Be Worth to Go to Probate in Oklahoma?

The probate requirement for an estate is based on estate value. Depending on the value of the estate, you may not be required to file a full probate process, and instead may opt for a simplified process. 

The estate value is periodically updated to keep up with the economy and ensure the dollar value of the estate does not stray too far either way from its original purported value. These assets may be in bank accounts or in physical property.

To qualify for the simplified probate procedure, the estate must be worth less than $200,000, including all assets. Estates that are worth more than this must go through the full probate process.

The Full Probate Procedure

The full probate process can last 6 months to a year on average, and begins with the executor, who is required to file for probate upon learning of the decedent’s death. The will and a death certificate must be supplied to the court in the county in which the decedent resided, or if they live out of state, the county in which they owned property.

Proper estate planning and a valid will are required for any distributions to be made to heirs and beneficiaries. Otherwise, the court will decide how assets are distributed. A court date must be set for a hearing, which will include a notice to all creditors who may have outstanding claims against the estate.

Regardless of whether a creditor comes forward to make a claim, the estate must then be inventoried to determine its full value, and then an application must be made for distributions to heirs according to the will. At every step, creditors and heirs are notified of the procedure, and heirs may come forward to dispute distributions or the legitimacy of any claims.

If creditors make claims against the estate or heirs dispute any part of the procedure, the probate process can be significantly extended, requiring all parties that assert claims to defend their case before the matter is settled by the court.

The Simplified Probate Procedure

The simplified probate process is shorter, typically lasting a few months to half a year. The simplified process may only require a single court hearing. The process is similar to the full probate procedure, but typically moves along faster as it typically handles fewer assets with fewer creditors. The notices to heirs and creditors are often combined, and may include a petition by the heirs or executor to finalize the distributions. The estate must qualify for the simplified process, however, which means the estate must either be worth less than $200,000, or the decedent must have died more than five years prior to the filing. Alternatively, the decedent must have resided in another jurisdiction at the time of death. 

What is Subject to Probate Law in Oklahoma? 

Typically, anything that is owned solely by the decedent at the time of death goes through probate. This means that the property or asset does not have a transfer-on-death or right of survivorship clause attached to it. This is why wills are critical in estate planning, determining how assets are distributed at the time of death. Assets may include physical real estate, securities, or money within a bank account. 

Do All Wills Go Through Probate?

No, not all wills go through probate in the state of Oklahoma. There are exceptions that allow you to avoid probate, but it is always important to consult with a probate attorney before making any decisions, including whether or not to file probate. A probate attorney can help you ensure your paperwork is in order and determine whether probate is necessary or if failure to file will open you to legal risks.

To avoid probate, the successors of an estate must file a Small Estates Affidavit. An estate is considered small if it is valued at less than $50,000, excluding any real estate. (1

Additionally, probate may be avoided if all assets are joint-owned or if the individual has filed right of survivorship documentation or otherwise filed transfer designations such as transfer-on-death or pay-on-death paperwork to distribute their assets purposefully.

In these cases, the additional filings are evidence of the intended distribution of assets, and probate may not be required.

What is the Order of Inheritance?

In most cases, the court will follow a basic order of inheritance when assets begin probate and no will is present. Typically, the order of succession is based on their biological relationship with the decedent, only moving to the next category if there are no living heirs in that category. The order is:

  1. Spouse
  2. Children
  3. Parents
  4. Siblings
  5. Children of siblings

If inheritance is split between multiple people, it is typically inherited equally among all individuals in that category. It is not typical for the estate’s assets to be split between categories, however, unless there is a valid will in place that explicitly states this. 

The order of inheritance may change depending on the ruling of the court and individual circumstances. The only way to ensure that all assets are distributed to their intended heirs at the time of death is to establish an estate plan and will with a certified estate planner.

Who Pays for Probate?

No one individual is responsible for the probate attorney fees or other related costs of probate. Instead, the probate fees come out of the estate directly, paid to the appropriate individuals after probate has been settled and the case closed. 

Typically, the probate costs can range anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 or more, depending on the length of the probate and the complexity of the assets. If probate is extended, whether from disputes from the heirs or additional claims on the estate, it can extend the costs associated with probate as well.

Contact Seda Law Firm

Have questions about the probate process? Seda Law Firm can help.

With multiple locations throughout Oklahoma, we can help you through the probate process or guide you through avoiding the requirement for probate.

Schedule your consultation today.

References: 

  1. Oklahoma Bar Association, Probate, https://www.okbar.org/freelegalinfo/probate/
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