Probate is triggered by someone’s passing and is required for almost all deaths unless the deceased has made plans to transfer his or her assets without probate. Probate is important because this is how debts of the deceased are paid and the property left behind by the deceased person transferred. It is overseen by an executor or personal representative, usually a close friend or family member of the deceased. It can be complicated, but family members left behind when a loved one dies need to know what to expect and to understand their rights.
An experienced probate lawyer can provide assistance with probates. Parman & Easterday represents heirs wishing to protect their inheritance and the wishes of the deceased. We provide legal representation to executors and personal representatives. Serving as an executor or personal representative is a big responsibility, and we make sure you fulfill your role and the duties imposed upon you by law. Call us today to learn more about the assistance we offer.
The Steps of the Probate Process
Title 58 of the Oklahoma Code explains the probate process. Usually an executor named in the will is in charge of completing the appropriate procedures. If there isn’t a will or executor appointed, or if the executor is not able to serve, the court will appoint one.
The executor or personal representative is responsible for completing the probate. This begins with the filing of a petition for probate in the county where the deceased resided. If property was owned in multiple states, it may be necessary to probate the will in multiple courts.
When a petition is filed, Oklahoma law requires the court to schedule a hearing within 10 and 30 days from the date of filing. Any potential beneficiaries (heirs, legatees, or devisees) known to the executor must be notified at least 10 days before the hearing. Notice is mailed to the last known name and address, if known, and notice is published in the newspaper at least 10 days before the hearing is scheduled. Then creditors of the decedent must be notified of the probate, as well.
The executor is responsible for inventorying estate property and, if necessary, having the property appraised to determine the value of the estate. The executor manages the property during probate, ensuring bills are paid and asset values are not diminished through mismanagement. The executor is a fiduciary and can be held accountable for doing things counter to the interest of heirs, such as taking property from the estate for personal benefit.
The executor pays the costs from the estate, including debts and taxes. Estate taxes may be assessed and paid from the estate, but only if the estate is valued at more than the excludable amount, currently $5.45 million.
At the initial hearing, the will is produced and the court determines if it is valid. If anyone contests the will, written grounds of opposition must be filed and a copy provided to the executor and other interested parties. All witnesses present in the county and of sound mind must testify in court if the will is contested.
If the will is not contested or the contest is unsuccessful, the probate will continue to carry out the terms of the will. When probate is finished, legal title to property will be transferred to the new owners.
Getting Legal Help With the Probate Process
To learn more and get the help you need, call us today at (405) 703-9987 or contact us online to speak with a Parman & Easterday professional.