Seven Signs that Joint Tenancy is Right for You

There are several ways in which a person can retain interest in a piece of property in the state of Oklahoma. Depending on the facts surrounding property ownership, a person should make a determination about what piece of property is right for him or her. One of the most common types of property ownership, joint ownership, refers to when two or more individuals retain ownership rights in a piece of property. This article will review some of the reasons why joint ownership of property might be right for you. The Survivor Element of Joint Ownership In joint tenancy properties in Oklahoma, when a co-owner dies, that person’s property interest passes to the surviving owners. While some people might be okay with this type of property arrangement, other individuals are not. Despite this feature, it is important for property owners to remember that joint tenancy is not a substitute for a will. A will is required to dispose of any other types of ownership rights that might be associated with this property. Ownership Rights can be Transferred to Third Parties If a property owner transfers his or her title to another person, the purchaser obtains only an undivided one-half interest in     Read More

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Signs That a Beneficiary Might be Able to Avoid Probate

Many people want to make sure their children or loved ones are taken care of after their death. They want to take all necessary steps to make sure that their assets are distributed according to their wishes and that the amount is not lost or consumed by government fees. While making sure that this distribution occurs and avoiding a waiting period is critical to many, there are some alternatives to traditional probate that are sometimes easier or better to use than more conventional methods. If an Estate is Small, Avoid Probate by Affidavit If the assets of a person’s estate are below a certain amount, the state of Oklahoma has a law that allows individuals to avoid the probate process. All that a beneficiary is required to do in these circumstances is to present the appropriate court with a document called an affidavit stating that the beneficiary is entitled to a certain asset. Once the person or company holding the deceased person’s property receives this affidavit and an authorized person of the deceased individual’s death certificate, the asset will be released. Heirship Affidavit In the state of Oklahoma, heirship affidavits are used to transfer property when a person dies instead     Read More

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Common Mistakes Made During the Probate Process

Many people have questions about the probate process. Some of the most common questions relate to appointing a fiduciary, when a fiduciary must begin performing his or her duties, and what will happen if a fiduciary does not act in accordance with someone’s wishes. As a result of these questions and many others, individuals often find the probate process to be overwhelming. To help individuals prepare for navigating the probate process, this article will discuss five of the most common mistakes that are made and how to avoid them. Not Maintaining a Piece of Property Some executors are unprepared for the significant responsibility that accompanies a house or large piece of land. Even though an executor might have the purest of intentions to make sure that a piece of property is adequately maintained, sometimes executors are overwhelmed and unprepared for such a responsibility. If the property is not adequately maintained, it may decline in value. The best way to avoid this mistake is to make sure that the executor understands the significant duties that come with temporarily holding property for a beneficiary. Not Keeping Adequate Records For executors, it is critical to make sure that all elements of the probate     Read More

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How Long Will Probate Take?

OKC Probate Attorney Jim A. Lyon provides legal services for probates and estates. There are alot of common questions regarding probate law. One of the most common questions is 'How long will probate take?'. There is, unfortunately, no universal answer to how long the probate process in Oklahoma will be. There are a variety of elements that influence exactly how long each probate will take. One of the best ways to limit the length of the probate process is to retain the assistance of skilled legal counsel. Another way to anticipate the length of probate is to understand the various factors that can affect the length of the process. Factors that Influence the Length of Probate There are numerous factors that can influence how long the probate process takes, but some of the most common factors that influence this process include the following: The Location of the Personal Representative: When personal representatives live close to the attorney, it can be easier for individuals to quickly visit legal counsel at a moment’s notice resulting in a quicker process. The Number of Beneficiaries: The more beneficiaries that are involved in the case, the longer the probate process will often take. The reason for     Read More

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What Happens in Probate of a Will?

If a person has assets at the time of his or her death, these assets must pass through the probate process where the validity of the will is determined. In addition to avoiding fraud, there are several other important elements of the probate process. This article will describe several of the elements that occur during the probate process. Common Steps in the Probate Process Courts in Oklahoma tend to follow some frequent steps in the probate process, which include the following: Opening Probate. This process involves presenting a court of law with an original copy of the will along with a petition to commence the probate process. Assessments of Assets. A deceased person’s assets can include all personal and real property belonging to that person. Once all of the assets have been identified, the value of these assets must be assessed. Notification to Creditors. Creditors, or parties that the deceased individual owes money must be notified that the probate process is occurring. Litigation. If there is a dispute that exists about the value of a will, a court of law will resolve this dispute. Payment of Taxes. Before the deceased person’s assets can be distributed, the remaining assets must be     Read More

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What Does it Mean to Probate a Will?

The word “probate” means an individual who proves or validates something. In the case of probating a will, a court of law will prove that a will is authentic and provides a true representation of a deceased individual’s intention. Even if a last will and testament represents a person’s interests, the state of Oklahoma requires it to meet several standards including proceeding through the probate process. The case will be initiated in the county where the deceased individual lived. The Reason Why Wills Must be Probated Wills must be probated to prevent fraudulent activity as well as to protect individuals who stand to gain assets through the will. Courts are concerned in some cases that a will might be a forgery, fraudulent, or written because someone unfairly exerted control over another. Additionally, in some cases courts might be uncertain whether a version of a will is the most recent form written by an individual. In some cases during the probate process, a court might decide that some provisions of the will are invalid. The Elements of the Probate Process During probate, courts appoint an administrator who makes decisions about issues that might arise regarding the administration of a person’s estate.     Read More

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What is the Process to Probate a Will?

There are some distinct advantages to creating a trust or will in the state of Oklahoma. These estate planning tools let individuals decide who receives the assets of a deceased individual. If a person does not have a will, courts in the state of Oklahoma will divide property in accordance with established law. During this process, courts will assess the value of the deceased person’s assets. The probate process can prove to be time consuming and complicated, which can make the assistance of a skilled estate planning attorney particularly valuable. This article will outline the major steps that comprise the probate process in Oklahoma. The Filing of a Petition This marks the first step in the probate process. If a person has written a will, this document will be filed in addition to the petition which requests that the will be recognized as a controlling legal document. Not only must the deceased individual’s will meet certain requirements to be considered a lawful document, but the will must have also been the most recent such document prepared by the individual. Notice to Your Heirs at Law Prior to a hearing about how a person’s estate should be divided, notice must be     Read More

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Techniques for Avoiding Probate

When individuals die without having an adequate estate plan in place, their estates will proceed through the probate process. Probate has the disadvantage of sometimes lasting for a long period of time. Fortunately, there are some methods that individuals can use to avoid the probate process. A skilled attorney will be able to help an individual determine the various methods necessary to avoid the probate process. Designate Beneficiaries in Retirement Accounts There are some assets that a person has that will pass on after his or her death in accordance with terms other than those found in a will. Many other estate planning devices allow individuals to name beneficiaries, including retirement accounts. Despite the power of these documents, many individuals do not list beneficiaries for bank accounts or retirement plans. By making sure to designate beneficiaries for retirement accounts, individuals can make sure that these assets avoid the probate process. The biggest obstacle presented by this method is making sure that the proper beneficiaries are listed because these roles may sometimes change due to death, divorce, or other major life events. Gifting Avoids the Probate Process By giving away property prior to death, a person can avoid the probate process.     Read More

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Oklahoma Supreme Court Decides Portability Election Case

A “portability election” refers to the ability of a surviving spouse to claim the unused portion of the federal estate tax exemption for a deceased spouse and add this amount to the balance of the surviving spouse’s own exemption. In January of 2017, the Oklahoma Supreme Court decided a case concerning a unique aspect about the amounts in portability elections. In the case of In re Estate of Vose, the Oklahoma Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s holding that required an estate administrator to make a portability election. While this case has the potential to provide some guidance on portability elections, individuals who are engaged in the probate process should not hesitate to contact a knowledgeable estate administration attorney. The Facts of the Vose Case In the case of Vose, a woman and her second husband signed prenuptial agreements prior to marriage. While these prenuptial agreements covered many terms, the agreements did not discuss portability elections. After the woman’s death, the woman’s child was appointed administrator of the woman’s estate. Although the child did not agree with it, an Oklahoma court ordered the portability election for the deceased woman be given to her section husband. The Oklahoma Supreme Court’s Decision     Read More

Navigating complex probate issues

Will your family go through the probate process after the death of a loved one? In probate, a person's assets are valued and distributed to heirs, debts are settled, and property ownership rights passed to the intended beneficiaries. In some cases, the probate process is smooth, if not time-consuming. Certain estates involve more complex factors, such as out-of-state property holdings, and it may take longer. Complex probate issues can be frustrating and overwhelming, and if you find yourself in this situation, you may benefit from an Oklahoma lawyer who can protect your rights and resolve these matters in a prompt manner. When probate involves oil and gas properties If you inherited oil or gas property or mineral rights to property, probate will be a bit more complicated. It is critical to work with a lawyer who can protect your rights and ensure that you receive the royalties to which you are entitled. There are important questions that require answers, such as: Where is the oil or gas property located? Is the property in question directly addressed in the will? Does the oil and gas company currently hold royalty money in suspense? If the property is located outside of the deceased's home     Read More