Nichols Hills Probate Lawyer

Finding the right Nichols Hills Probate Attorney

When someone close to us passes away and we need to sort out their possession, finding a good probate attorney in Nichols Hills is key to make things go smoothly and quickly. Dealing with their estate can be tough.

Probate law is all about figuring out how to handle the things and money left behind, and making sure it goes to the right people. It's important to follow what the person actually wanted tp happen with their belongings.

This process can get pretty complicated and take a long time. Having a lawyer who knows probate can be super helpful. They can tell you what to do next, explain how they can help, and make sure everything is done the way the person who died wanted. What you need to do can change a lot based on if the person made a will, set up trusts, or didn't plan anything.

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When the total value of someone's estate in Nichols Hills, Oklahoma is under $200,000, a quicker process called summary probate can sometimes be used. This method needs at least 45 days by law and often finishes in a few months, depending on how busy the court is.


Summary probate is a good choice if the estate is not large, there's no need to sell any property, and the family agrees on how to handle everything.

For summary probate to start, all heirs must agree in writing. If even one person disagrees, then summary probate can't happen.

If there's disagreement or fighting among the beneficiaries about how things should be handled, the court may switch the process to a regular, longer probate.

Selling real estate during summary probate isn't allowed because the law doesn't officially decide who inherits until the final hearing. To sell property, everyone involved must agree in writing, but since the heirs aren't officially recognized until Summary Probate ends, they can't sign off on selling property during the process.

Summary probate is useful for smaller estates without family disputes and where no real estate needs to be sold.


Handling a probate often involves a detailed process that can stretch from several months to years, especially if there's disagreement among those involved. Lawyers first need to check if the deceased left behind a Last Will, a pour-over will, or no will at all. Dying without a will is known as dying "intestate."

The attorney meets with clients to prepare an initial Petition for Probate. Once the client approves and signs it, this petition is filed with the Oklahoma County Court Clerk. The court then schedules a hearing for the petition, and notices are published in a local Oklahoma County newspaper and sent to all interested parties.

At the first hearing, the court decides on four key issues:

  1. whether the Oklahoma County District Court can oversee the case;
  2. the validity of the last will;
  3. who should manage the estate (often the person who hired the lawyers);
  4. and identifying the rightful heirs or beneficiaries.

Following these decisions, the appointed Personal Representative is responsible for managing the deceased's assets, settling any debts, and distributing the remaining assets to the heirs.

Creditors have 60 days from when a Notice to Creditors is published to make a claim against the estate. This notice is also sent to known creditors. The Personal Representative evaluates these claims, which must be approved by the Judge before payment.

An inventory listing the estate's assets is usually required, which includes real estate, personal belongings, and financial accounts. If assets need to be sold to pay debts or for distribution, the Personal Representative requests the Court's permission. Since the court has identified the legal heirs, their written agreement of each heir is necessary for the sale of property.

After settling all claims and gathering the assets, the estate can be closed. This involves filing a Final Account, publishing a Notice of Final Hearing, and setting a hearing date.

In a perfect scenario, probate could be resolved in 4 to 5 months. However, due to potential complications and disputes, it typically takes 5 to 7 months, or even years if there's family conflict.

What is the most common issue in Probate?

The most significant challenges in probate often arise from family disputes over belongings rather than money, as the amount of money is limited. The fiercest disagreements typically center around personal items. 

Take, for example, the debate over who inherits a family painting hanging over the fireplace. Such a painting, possibly passed down through generations, becomes more than just art; it symbolizes family history and memories, making it incredibly difficult to decide its rightful heir.

However, with a dedicated team providing proper guidance and representation in probate matters, it's possible to navigate these situations smoothly, avoiding disputes and hard feelings among family members.

How to avoid Probate?

A smart way to dodge the hassle of probate is by sorting things out beforehand using a revocable living trust-based estate plan or transfer on death (TOD) and beneficiary designations.

A revocable trust lets a trustee manage assets for beneficiaries. It can protect these assets and also look after you if you can't make decisions for yourself, saving you from the stress and expense of court hearings for court appointed guardianship or conservatorship.

Assets properly funded in a trust skip the probate process entirely, meaning they go straight to the beneficiaries without getting tied up in court.

TOD designation is another great tool. It lets you pass certain things like bank accounts directly to someone when you pass away, no probate needed.

If you've got a trust, you might also think about a pour-over will. It's a safety net that catches any assets you didn't move into the trust while you were alive and pours them into the trust when you pass away. You'll still need probate for these assets, but at least they'll follow the trust's plan.

Don't forget to regularly check and update who you've named as beneficiaries on things like retirement accounts and life insurance. This ensures everything fits nicely with your overall revocable living trust centered estate plan.

While setting up your estate plan does take some investment of money and time, it's a big saver in the end—saving time, money, and stress for your loved ones. Plus, it means your assets are shared how you wanted, quickly and without legal headaches, offering peace of mind to you and your family.

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