Get Answers to Your Oklahoma Legal Issue Here. Accident, Injury, Malpractice, Family Law, Criminal Law, and Insurance Claim Questions
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Why would you want UM/UIM?
Compton Law has handled many automobile accidents and the vast majority of those did not have adequate coverage in place to totally compensate for the injuries sustained. Even worse, should you get into an accident with someone who is driving without insurance and you failed to purchase UM coverage, you would probably only receive a very small amount under the medical payments protection of your insurance policy. UM insurance is a necessity and something you do not want to be caught without.
It's usually relatively cheap to add uninsured/underinsured motorist protection to your car insurance policy, especially considering the amount of protection it offers. It could pay your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Is UM/UIM required?
In Oklahoma, the insurance company is legally obligated to offer you certain amounts of UM/UIM coverage and if you don’t want it you must decline in writing. If you purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist protection, your UM/UIM payment limits usually must comply with the state minimum but can't exceed your liability limits.
What is UM or UIM
Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage can pay for damages to you and your passengers when there is an accident and the other driver is both legally responsible for the accident and considered "uninsured" or "underinsured."
An uninsured driver is someone who did not have any insurance, had insurance that did not meet state-mandated minimum liability requirements, or whose insurance company denied their claim or was not financially able to pay it. A hit-and-run driver also counts as uninsured.
An underinsured driver is someone who met minimum legal financial responsibility requirements, but did not have payment limits high enough to cover the damage they caused. In these cases, UM or UIM can pay you for your damages.
What if the decedent owned property in other states?
Each state has specific laws that must be followed in order to transfer property situated in that state. Many states have an accelerated probate procedure that allows one to conduct a speedy proceeding to transfer those land or minerals by utilizing the Oklahoma Decree. However, the Oklahoma probate alone will not suffice and some legal proceeding in that state must be held.
What are common challenges to a will?
It is typically very difficult to challenge a will. Wills are seen by the court as the voice of the testator, the person who wrote the will. Since that person is no longer here to speak about his or her wishes, the courts stick pretty stringently to the will. Anyone who may have an interest to gain from the will can challenge a will. The most successful challengers are usually the spouses, and the most successful grounds are that the person lacked testamentary capacity or that the person was unduly influenced or persuaded to write the will a certain way. Adults are presumed to have testamentary capacity and in order to challenge a will based on mental capacity, you must show that the testator did not understand the consequences of making the will at the time of the will's creation.
What if specific property mentioned in the will has been sold or cannot be found?
If the will or trust identifies property that was sold prior to death, then that property shall be disregarded and treated as though it did not exist. Exceptions do apply if the property was sold while the decedent was alive but was incapacitated. Normally, estates that are probated will have a final document "Decree" that provides for the distribution of unknown but later discovered assets.
What if the decedent’s heirs or devisees or beneficiaries are minors?
In Oklahoma, the standard law is that any money or property distributed to a minor (under the age of 21) shall be held in a trust. This means that an adult would be appointed to oversee and manage the assets. The decedent may have nominated a specific person in the will or trust, if not, a judge will appoint someone. That person may then distribute funds to the minor which are reasonable and necessary.
What is the best way to handle personal property of the decedent? (ex: bank accounts, vehicles, household items)
The administrator should promptly make a detailed inventory of the decedent's personal property items. It is also important that the personal property items are secured from damage, loss, and/or theft. This would include maintaining an existing security system, placed the items in a locked storage unit, or otherwise maintaining the items under lock and key. Next, the administrator should determine whether any of the items have a lien or loan against them and then notify the specific creditor. Certain personal property items that are in joint ownership or Joint Tenancy can then be distributed over to the joint owner.
The decedent owned real estate and/or minerals, how do we sell it or distribute it to the decedent’s heirs or devisees?
If the decedent owned real estate or minerals, some legal process must be had in order to transfer ownership title to the heirs. Normally this includes filing a Petition to Sell real property and obtaining court approval. If the decedent dies with or without a will, the estate must conduct a probate proceeding. If the decedent died with a properly drafted and funded trust, there is a chance the Trustee can simply execute a deed transferring the property to the heirs/beneficiaries.
May costs of administration and legal fees be paid out of the estate? What liabilities or debts will the estate be responsible for?
Any cost and legal fees that are beneficial to the estate can be paid with estate funds. However, laws specifically dictate the order and priority of payment. The administrator of the Estate is required perform a diligent search and discover all of the creditors and liabilities and give them due notice. It is very important that the Administrator use extreme caution when making certain payments to creditors prior to a court order because the court may require the Administrator to personally pay back any improper payments. As such, Compton Law’s advice is to obtain court approval or speak to an attorney prior to making any payments or dispersing any estate assets.