ESTATE & PROBATE LAWYER
I have more than 40 years of experience safeguarding the futures of Oklahomans and
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Oklahoma City Probate Lawyer
Jim Lyon: Probate attorney near you in OKC
Oklahoma City probate attorney Jim A. Lyon has more than 40 years of experience in a wide array of related matters, including wills, trusts, real estate, and inheritance (including taxes). Trust him and his team to ensure that your estate is handled meticulously, and in accordance with your wishes and Oklahoma law.
Our law firm specializes in probate involving:
- OIL AND GAS PROPERTIES
Probate becomes even more complex when an estate includes oil and gas land. Our knowledge of both probate law and oil and gas law allows us to handle these challenging issues so that you and your family can continue to get royalty payments. Is the oil and gas land in Oklahoma, or is it in Texas or another state? Was the oil and gas property addressed correctly, or at all, in the deceased’s will? Is royalty money being held in suspense by the oil and gas company? Regardless of the specifics, you can count on our experienced guidance.
- ANCILLARY PROBATES
This is a separate probate that needs to be conducted for any assets owned outside of the deceased’s home state. For example, if an individual in California owned oil and gas land or mineral rights in Oklahoma, an ancillary probate would need to be conducted in Oklahoma in addition to the primary probate that was conducted in California. The need for this process often catches family members by surprise. They conduct probate in the deceased’s home state and think everything is okay, until the oil and gas company stops sending royalty checks. The checks will be suspended or turned over to the state in unclaimed property until an ancillary probate is conducted in the state where the oil and gas property is. We have become a go-to law firm for probate law in the Oklahoma City area. Many Oklahoma ancillary probate cases are referred to us by fellow lawyers and other parties from around the country. The majority of these cases involve oil and gas royalties or mineral rights. We handle Oklahoma ancillary probates for out-of-state clients, as well as guidance to local probate law clients with ancillary probates in other states.
- PROBATE DISPUTES
While our goal is to usher families through the probate process as efficiently as possible, the reality is that these are emotional times and disputes may arise. When a will contest or other dispute arises during the process, we can help.
What is probate?
Probate is the legal process during which a person’s assets are distributed to beneficiaries after debts are paid. In some cases involving probate, a person’s will is involved. When controversies arise concerning how a person’s estate should be administered, these situations are referred to as probate litigation. If you are involved in probate litigation, the assistance of a skilled probate attorney can prove to be particularly helpful.
Common areas involving probate litigation
When parties disagree about how estates are being probated, there is great likelihood that litigation will occur. Because these cases can be difficult, it is important for individuals in these cases to get help from an experienced Oklahoma City probate lawyer. Some of the most common areas in which our law firm assists individuals in cases of probate litigation include:
- conflicts of interest: Many probate litigation cases involve conflicts of interests that involves designated beneficiaries who might have less than loyal relationships with the deceased person.
- exclusions: When parties are omitted from wills but believe that they should be included, individuals are known to challenge the will’s validity on arguments of incapacity or undue influence.
- lack of capacity: Sometimes, beneficiaries or administrators feel that the deceased individual lacked the proper mental capacity to create an effective last will and testament. These cases frequently involve medical evaluations.
- power of attorney abuses: The documents that create the power of attorney provide parties the capacity to make significant life decisions on behalf of the incapacitated individual. If the party that is granted power of attorney makes inappropriate decisions, there is a risk of litigation occurring about abuse of this power.
- removal of an executor: An executor is tasked with managing the estate of a deceased person. If an executor fails to perform these duties in an efficient and timely manner, there is significant damage that can be done to the person’s estate. In these situations, probate litigation is not uncommon.
- removal of a trustee: Trustees must make sure that a trust remains able to fulfill the purpose for which the trust was created. In some cases, however, trustees fails to properly perform their duties. As a result, beneficiaries may petition courts for removal of the trustee.
- trustee fraud: A trustee is responsible for maintaining a trust and reporting accurate details about management of the trust. In some situations, however, a trust might attempt to disguise failure to perform their duties or wrongdoing.
- undue influence: The most common cause of will contests is when one person uses his or her power to manipulate another person into signing a will, which eliminates the element of free will and rational judgment that are required to create estate planning documents.
- unequal shares: A common issue for the beneficiaries of a person who creates a will is whether those individuals receive an unequal share from the estate. Litigation often occurs concerning this issue.
If you or a loved one are involved in related litigation and need the assistance of skilled counsel, contact The Jim A. Lyon Law Firm.
How does the probate process unfold?
For individuals who are trying to manage the difficult emotions that can arise after the loss of a loved one, the probate process can prove to be particularly challenging. There are many tasks that must be performed during probate including creating an inventory of assets and resolving any debt issues. Fortunately, a skilled Oklahoma City probate attorney can help with all aspects of the probate process.
Time involved in the process
One of the major obstacles created by the probate process in the state of Oklahoma is that the process frequently takes a long time to conclude. During the probate process, beneficiaries are unable to access any assets that were left by the deceased individual. The average estate takes over a year to conclude and for assets to be received by beneficiaries. This time span can be particularly frustrating to individuals who want the process to conclude more quickly.
Steps in the probate process
The probate process requires several important steps, which include the following:
- Creditors are notified about the person’s death.
- Executors or personal representatives are informed about when to distribute assets to beneficiaries.
- Legal actions might need to be taken regarding probation litigation of the deceased individual’s estate.
- Assets are sold to pay debts owed by the person who died.
Duties of a personal representative
Many individuals designate a personal representative in their last will and testament. If this individual is not named, however, the probate court must designate who will act as a personal representative to oversee the process. These representatives are charged with several responsibilities, which include the following:
- deciding who the beneficiaries of the estate plan are and ultimately transferring assets to them
- filing a petition for the probate process
- notifying banks, beneficiaries, and government agencies
- paying any creditors to whom the deceased individual owes debts
- receiving the assets of the deceased individual
Probate laws in the State of Oklahoma
If a person does not create an effective will or trust to handle their assets upon their death, intestacy laws in the state of Oklahoma establish a succession plan of how assets are passed down. These laws specify which beneficiaries will receive what property and how much.
What about spouses’ rights?
In accordance with probate law in the state of Oklahoma, if a deceased person is survived only by a spouse then all of that person’s estate goes to the spouse. If a deceased person is survived by a spouse and children, then the spouse receives half of the deceased person’s entire estate and the deceased person’s children receive half of the estate. This is just one of the important and complicated laws that dictate how the probate process in the state of Oklahoma works.
If you have any questions about the probate process or need assistance navigating this issue, contact a knowledgeable Oklahoma City probate lawyer like Jim A Lyon today.
How long will probate take?
One of the the questions we’re asked most frequently 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 is to understand the various factors that can lengthen it.
Factors that influence the length
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 process will often take. The reason for this extension in time is that it takes longer to probate matters with more beneficiaries because there is a larger amount of paperwork involved.
- the existence of disagreement Among Beneficiaries: Sometimes beneficiaries disagree about how to proceed with the process. Other times, beneficiaries agree on most issues concerning the probate process. In nearly all cases, the greater the beneficiaries disagree, the longer the probate process is likely to take.
- the existence of a will contest: Will contests refer to legal proceedings that attempt to invalidate a will. These contests can be based on a variety of argument including that the will was not signed in the appropriate manner, the will was the product of fraud or fraudulent activity, the party who wrote did so under duress that was caused by another person, or the person who made the will lacked the mental capacity to do so.
- if the estate in question Must be taxed: If an estate still owes taxes or is large enough that additional taxes must be paid, the process is likely to take longer. With some taxes, the probate process could be delayed by many months.
- the complexity of assets owned by the estate: If an estate is comprised of few assets, the process is relatively simple and can often proceed quickly. If more assets are involved, however, the probate process can be significantly extended.
There many unique factors that can significantly extend the length of the probate process including complexity, taxes, will contests, disagreements among beneficiaries, the number of beneficiaries, and the location of involved individuals. A skilled probate lawyer near you in Oklahoma City is often able to analyze a person’s case to make a determination of exactly how long the probate process should take.
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 process, this passage 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 process are sufficiently recorded. In a large number of cases, however, executors fail to keep sufficient logs about estate appraisal, personal expenses in maintaining an estate, or tax payments. Poor logs have the potential to greatly extend the length of time that the probate process takes. The best way to avoid this mistake is to adequately record all elements of the probate process.
Lack of communication between beneficiaries
It is common for beneficiaries to feel anxious or uneasy about how the probate process will conclude and what assets will be passed onto them. It is critical that an executor remains in contact with all involved beneficiaries to discuss how to best navigate the process. The best way to solve this problem is for an executor to maintain a line of communication with all beneficiaries so that they are aware of how the process is proceeding.
Not obtaining the assistance of skilled counsel
Not only does probate involve a complex body of laws, the probate process can require a significant amount of time. Seasoned legal counsel can assist in making sure that probate proceeds as smoothly as possible and can greatly reduce how overwhelming the process can seem. A highly skilled probate attorney in Oklahoma City can help individuals navigate this process and avoid potential complications that might arise.
How can a probate attorney near me help?
Probate is an important method of planning for a large number of individuals in Oklahoma City. As a result, it is critical for individuals to create and use probate tools that will accurately reflect their wishes. Because there are numerous laws controlling the probate process, individuals often discover that a skilled probate lawyer near you can prove particularly helpful in creating strong probate devices. Do not hesitate to contact the Jim A. Lyon Law Firm for the probate assistance that you need.