Probate is a legal action to determine what should be done with the property, both real and personal, of a person who passed away.  There are two general types of probate actions; one where an individual left a valid Will and the other where they left an invalid Will or no Will at all.

Probate of a Valid Will – No Will has any legal value after the person dies until a Court determines that the Will is valid. This first means that someone has to file a legal action and present the Will to the Court. In Oklahoma, the Court will make sure that the Will is the original document signed by the drafter. Copies of Wills are not valid.

The Court will hold a hearing to which everyone who is mentioned in the Will or is a spouse or possible heir receives notice in advance. The Court will make sure that the Will is signed, witnessed by two people and notarized.  If it is a handwritten Will, it must all be handwritten by the Will drafter. No part of it can be written by someone else.  Oklahoma law is very particular about handwritten wills because of the possibility the person was forced or coerced by someone to dispose of their property in that particular way.

Probate Without a Will (Intestate) – If there is no Will, the Court will apply the laws of intestate succession.  This is looking to the spouse, children, brothers, sisters and other family members of the person who passed to determine how their property should be distributed. The laws in Oklahoma are very clear on how this shall be  done. While there are many possible outcomes to who would inherit from a person without a Will, Oklahoma law states that the last possible choice would be that the estate goes to the State of Oklahoma for the support of the public schools.

What is Probate and Why Should I Avoid It?