Oklahoma Probate Attorney
In Oklahoma, there are several types of probates, but all involve the same general process:
A probate action begins with filing a Petition for Probate. If the decedent was a resident of Oklahoma, the court action should be filed in the county where the decedent resided. If they were not a resident of Oklahoma, the court action should be filed in the county where any part of the estate is located. The petition will set out certain facts such as date of death, residence, whether or not there was a will, who is to act as personal representative, names, ages and residences of heirs, legatees and devisees, and probable value of the estate.
The court then sets a date for hearing. Depending on the type of probate proceeding, several hearings may be required. A personal representative will be appointed at the time of filing the petition or at a separate hearing. Letters testamentary, letters of administration, or letters of special administration will be issued to the personal representative, as discussed in Question #2.
Notice of the probate proceedings must be given to all heirs and persons named in the will and should be published in a newspaper in the county where proceedings are to be held. Notice must also be given to all known creditors. The creditors have a certain amount of time within which to file their claims, or else the claim will be forever barred.
The personal representative must prepare an inventory listing the probate property owned by the decedent and its value. The personal representative must prepare a final account which contains the information regarding the assets in the estate available for distribution after all debts and taxes have been paid. The estate is then closed by the court entering a Final Order to distribute the assets and discharge the duties of the personal representative. A certified copy of the Final Order should be recorded in any county in which the decedent owned real property or mineral interests.
Depending on the type of probate procedure used, a probate may be wrapped up between 2 - 9 months, or longer. The costs to probate include the filing fee for the petition, notice publication fee, personal representative's fee, and any attorney's fees that may be incurred. Although there is a cost to hiring an attorney, an experienced attorney will assist you in navigating the probate process and will help avoid costly mistakes.