A last will is a document that tells what someone wants to happen with their property after they die.
A Will is a document that helps decide what happens to your money and other possessions. You should get help from a lawyer who knows about these things.
Some people may want to be buried or cremated when they die. They might have said what they wanted before they died with a preplanned funeral plan, so you do not need to worry about it.
When someone dies, they have to have their will approved by the court. This is called probate.
During the Probate procedure, the Probate Court will validate the legal statement, determine heirs, and make disbursements. The Personal Representative (or Executor) will pay the decedent's debts and close financial accounts as part of the process.
There are six general steps in the probate process:
- A Probate is filed with the Probate Court and all interested parties are notified.
- The court will then appoint a personal representative or executor to administer the estate and determine heirs.
- All assets will be accounted for.
- The Probate Court will establish a deadline for all creditors to file claims. If a creditor files a claim after the deadline, then they are usually barred forever.
- The final step is to distribute any remaining assets to the heirs (sometimes referred to as beneficiaries).
This is a simplified description of the Probate procedure.
If you do not have a Last Will and Testament, then Oklahoma law will decide how to distribute your estate. This is called intestate succession.
This can sometimes have mixed results leaving a spouse or children with much less than the decedent might have wanted. For example, let's say you are married with NO children, but you have living parents, brother and sisters.
Under this scenario your spouse gets 1/2 of all jointly acquired property during the marriage, but your spouse only gets 1/3 of everything else. The other 2/3 is split between your parents, brothers and sisters.
This example demonstrates why careful estate planning is so critical, regardless of how big or small your assets are.
A Last Will and Testament can also designate a guardian for minor children and provide for your pets.
Call the Cortes Law Firm at 405-213-0856 or self-schedule under "Contact" above for a free estate planning consultation.
Estate planning attorney and probate attorney Steve Cortes has over 22 years of legal experience and help you customize an estate plan just for you. Get directions on Google Maps