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 used to pay any remaining estate taxes.
  • Distribution of Assets to Beneficiaries. Once taxes have been paid, distribution of assets occur and a final inventory of the disbursement must be made.

Advice on Navigating the Probate Process

Understanding exactly what happens during the probate process is a wise idea. Other advice that individuals should follow when navigating the probate process include the following:

  • Assess Whether There are Any Belongings Solely in the Name of the Deceased Person. While assets that are jointly between individuals will pass to the other party, if any assets are designated solely in the name of the person, then probate must occur involving this property.
  • Consider Not Publishing an Obituary. There are many creditors and individuals who seek to collect on debts by reading obituaries and then attempting to make a claim that the deceased individual owes a particular debt.
  • Determine Value. Assess the value of assets before probate because this value will greatly influence how the probate process occurs.
  • Look for a Will. A will can articulate whether any parties are listed as inheritors or administrators of the deceased person’s estate.
  • Keep the Original Death Certificate. This documentation is important because it can be used to demonstrate that an individual has passed away.
  • Obtain Contact Information for Involved Parties. By maintaining names and contact information for deceased individuals, administrators will have an easier time contacting individuals.

Obtain the Assistance of a Probate Attorney

The probate process achieves several goals during the probate process. To understand how the probate process occurs, it is a wise idea to retain the assistance of a skilled attorney. Consider contacting attorney Jim A Lyon today for assistance with the probate process.