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

Will You Need to Hire an Oklahoma City Probate Attorney?

Acting as the executor of a loved one's estate can be a daunting task-both emotionally and logistically. For starters, if a loved one had a large estate that needed to be distributed, it would be your job to go through every single item of the deceased's estate to ensure that it was accounted for-a time consuming and meticulous task. Emotionally speaking, acting as the executor of an estate can put you in an awkward position with your family members. Even though you would only be acting on behalf of the deceased, all of the beneficiaries (and even non-beneficiaries) would view you as the bad guy should they not like what they did and did not receive. Because of this, many Oklahoma residents often find it beneficial to hire an Oklahoma City probate attorney to assist them with the probate process, or even to take over entirely. Reasons to Hire a Probate Attorney At Jim A. Lyon Law Firm, our probate attorney has dealt with the execution of many estates, and is equipped to help you should you find that you need assistance in executing your loved one's estate. When a client turns to us, it is typically for one of the following reasons: There is discord     Read More

3 Reasons Not to Trust Your DIY Will

Most people turn to the Internet today to do everything for them - from answering simple questions to filing an accident claim with their insurance company. So it would make sense that many people are beginning to turn to the World Wide Web to create their estate plan as well. Unfortunately, while planning your estate online may seem to be the easier option, doing so can actually create a lot of problems in the future-for both yourself and your beneficiaries. At Jim A. Lyon Law Firm, we always recommend hiring an estate planning and probate attorney to assist you with the creation of your estate plan, as creating a will, trust, or any other end-of-life document involves a lot of consideration, legalities, and attention to even the most minute details. If you are looking for an affordable way to create your end-of-life documents, you do not have to rely on DIY methods; our Oklahoma City estate planning and probate attorney has been helping individuals in the Oklahoma City area with their end-of-life planning for over 30 years, and now we want to help you. Why You Should Not Use Online Estate Planning Software Aside from the fact that online software cannot discuss your estate plan     Read More

Should You Create a Will or a Living Trust?

There are many types of estate planning documents that one can create, including a Last Will and Testament, Codicil to Will, Living Will, Living Trust, Transfer on Death Deed, and a Durable Power of Attorney. For the sake of this article, we are going to discuss the differences between two most commonly asked about estate planning tools: The Living Trust and the Last Will and Testament. At Jim A. Lyon Law Firm, our Oklahoma City probate attorney assist clients in the creation of their end-of-life documents, so that they may make the probate process easier on their loved ones in the event of their death. If you are in the process of creating your estate planning documents, but you are unsure of whether to create a Living Trust or a Last Will and Testament, contact our Oklahoma City probate law firm. We can assess your estate and end-of-life wishes and help you determine the best document based off of your needs. What is a Will? A Last Will and Testament, more commonly known as a will, is a written document that specifies how you wish your property to be distributed in the event of your death. A will can be amended at any point throughout your     Read More

Oklahoma Probate Basics

Most individuals understand that they need a will or trust in place in order to ensure that their assets go to whom they want them to go to upon their death. However, many individuals do not understand what goes on beyond the creation of their estate planning documents or, more specifically, how the directions of their will are carried out after death. When an individual dies, their estate goes through a process called "probate," which is the legal process of transferring over a deceased individual's assets upon their death. Probate serves many purposes, including ensuring that all debts are paid off, that the will is distributed according to the deceased's wishes, and that fraudulent behavior does not occur. At Jim A. Lyon Law Firm, our Oklahoma probate attorneys oversee the probate process and ensure that proceedings go smoothly. What Does the Probate Process Entail? When a will is contested, the proceedings can become a bit more complicated, and typically require aggressive legal assistance to ensure that all beneficiaries receive what is rightfully theirs. However, when a will or estate planning document - such as a trust - is uncontested, probate is a fairly quick and pain free process. The probate process of an uncontested will     Read More

Petition for Letters of Administration

If an individual close to you should pass away without having a will in place, an administrator is appointed to manage the estate. This process is not as simple as just picking somebody, but must first go through the Petition for Letters of Administration and then be approved by the court. There are several different ways in which an administrator is chosen. If priority is not given to a surviving spouse or an heir close to the deceased, the court will appoint someone. The family is then given ten days to either object or accept the court's decision. How Does the Court Choose an Administrator? Unfortunately, many individuals fail to create a will or estate plan before they pass. However, most people leave behind at least some assets upon their death. In order to properly manage all of the deceased's assets, and in order to ensure that they go to the proper beneficiary or heir, an administrator must be appointed. Usually this title goes to the closest surviving spouse or heir by unanimous decision from other remaining heirs. However, when the vote isn't unanimous, the decision goes to the probate court. Under the Petition for Letters Administration, all heirs are     Read More