Your estate may be subject to the probate process if you do not take steps to avoid it. Most people use a last will to express their final wishes with regard to the distribution of their remaining financial assets. Unless certain circumstances exist, if you go this route the heirs to the estate will not receive their inheritances until the estate has been probated and closed by the court.
Depending on the state within which you reside, it may be possible to avoid probate without taking any particular steps in advance. In the state of Oklahoma, an estate can be settled through the execution of an out-of-court affidavit procedure if the assets in question do not exceed $20,000 in value.
Simplified Probate in Oklahoma
Oklahoma also allows for a simplified probate process. If the assets that comprise the estate are valued at $200,000 or less, a simplified probate procedure may be an option. There are some other extenuating circumstances that could allow for a simplified probate.
If the estate is subject to the full process of probate there are certain drawbacks. One of these is the fact that probate can be time consuming.
Depending on the overall value of the estate, the nature of the assets, the dynamic of the family, and other factors the process can take anywhere from a number of months to a number of years.
As we stated previously, the heirs to the estate will not receive their inheritances until this process has run its course.
Another one of the drawbacks of probate is the fact that it is a public proceeding. Anyone who wants to know what went on can access probate records.
Lastly, probate can be expensive. There are legal fees, accounting expenses, liquidation costs, the executor’s fees, filing fees, and other ad hoc expenses that can ultimately consume a noticeable portion of the estate.
Probate Avoidance Strategies
It is possible to be proactive about the implementation of probate avoidance strategies. There are a number of different ways that you could arrange for the future transfer of your monetary assets outside of the process of probate.
One popular choice is the revocable living trust. With this type of trust you do not surrender control of the assets while you are still living. However, after you die the trustee that you choose distributes the assets that have been conveyed into the trust to the beneficiaries according to your wishes outside of the process of probate.
If you would like to learn more about probate, simple affidavits, simplified probate, and probate avoidance strategies, contact our firm to set up a free consultation. We will gain an understanding of your unique personal situation, answer all your questions, and make the appropriate recommendations.
Parman & Easterday