When a person dies, Oklahoma provides for the probate process by which the deceased person’s property is subject to evaluation. The probate process can be a simple or complicated process depending on the number and types of assets a person owns. The probate court will assess the property values and ensure that any outstanding debts and taxes are paid off before the heirs are identified. Once all heirs are identified and notified, the estate can be divided and distributed to these individuals. Here are some of the advantages, no matter the size of an estate, to avoiding the probate process:
Timespan: Some of the estate’s assets may be needed promptly depending on the heirs’ needs. The properties and assets that comprise an estate can raise several issues for distribution. Assessing the properties involved can be a drawn-out process if the assets in question are complicated or cannot be easily divided. With stocks, real property and other nonliquid assets, rarely do these properties divide equally. Some of these assets may have to be sold off to facilitate division.
Privacy: There are many reasons why a family or heir to an estate may want to keep the nature of that inheritance private. The probate process is open to public scrutiny and could present a privacy issue for many people. By placing some assets in a living trust, the owner can keep those assets out of the probate process.
Cost: The administration needed for the process can be costly. If the deceased person owned property in multiple states, those properties may have to go through probate in each state, adding to administration costs.
Finding the best tools for your family
A person may be able to make as many of their assets ready for distribution to those named in the trust at the time of the person’s death by using trusts, retirement accounts, and various estate planning tools. It is crucial that no matter the size of your estate or the stage of life you’re in, you consider making a well-thought-out estate plan.