Writing a will is a very basic form of estate planning. It allows you to determine how your assets are distributed after your death and who will manage the administration of your estate. Writing an estate plan can make the probate process much less complicated and lengthy for your loved ones, especially if you make more comprehensive plans that avoid probate entirely. An estate planning attorney in Tulsa can help you create a will and estate plan.

If you die without having written a will, then the assets in your estate are distributed based on state law in probate court. The court will decide who will administer your estate, and you do not have a say in this decision nor in how your assets are distributed. This is intestate succession law, which prioritizes your relatives to inherit your estate. If you have no surviving spouse, close relatives, or descendants, your estate may end up passing into the state’s jurisdiction.

Your estate may also be subject to succession laws if you create a will or estate plan that is not enforceable. These complications only increase the time and money that your loved ones must spend in probate court. They must also wait longer to obtain the benefits of your estate.

Succession Laws Without a Will in Oklahoma

If you die without a will, your estate is distributed to your closest relatives. Whether you have a surviving spouse is very important in succession laws. If you do have a surviving spouse, then your estate is distributed, and your spouse receives the following:

  1. The entire estate if you have no surviving descendants, parents, or siblings
  2. All marital property and an undivided ⅓ of the remaining estate if you are survived by your parents or siblings
  3. An undivided ½ interest in the estate’s property if all your surviving descendants are also the descendants of your spouse
  4. An undivided ½ interest in marital property and an undivided equal portion of separate property if you have surviving descendants, but one or more are not the descendants of your spouse

If you had no surviving spouse, then their share of the estate will pass in the following order:

  1. To any surviving children in undivided equal portions and to the descendants of deceased children equally by right of representation
  2. To your surviving parent or parents in undivided equal portions if you have no descendants
  3. To the surviving descendants of your parents, if you have no surviving descendants or parents
  4. To your surviving grandparents or their descendants, divided equally, if there are none of the above surviving relatives
  5. To your next of kin in equal portions if none of the above relatives survive you

If none of these relatives survive you, then the estate will pass to the state. Because of the significant number of relatives listed in intestate succession laws, this is very uncommon. The state laws attempt to provide your estate’s inheritance to anyone related to you. Both biological and adopted children or descendants are considered the same under succession laws.

If you have a partner but are not married to them, it is especially important that you do not let your estate be divided by the state’s succession laws. Your partner has no protections under state law, so they will not inherit anything from your estate. Creating a will, trust, or other estate planning documents can provide those inheritance rights and protect your partner financially.

There are many other cases where an estate plan is important to avoid succession laws, besides wanting to save your loved ones the time in court. You may not be on good terms with your biological family and do not want them to inherit from you. In other cases, you may have specific causes or individuals you would prefer to benefit from your estate. A will can help you ensure that your wishes are followed.


Q: What Is the Order of Intestate Succession in Oklahoma?

A: Intestate succession laws in Oklahoma are complicated, and some of the first steps are as follows:

  1. A surviving spouse will receive the entire estate if there are no other close family members.
  2. If you had children with that spouse, the estate is split between your descendants and your spouse, with your spouse receiving half of all property.
  3. If one or more of your children or descendants are not your spouse’s, your spouse receives half of the marital property and an equal portion of the rest of the estate.

Q: How Do You Transfer Property After the Death of a Parent Without a Will in Oklahoma?

A: To transfer property after the death of a parent in Oklahoma when there is no will, the assets and estate must go through the probate process. Depending on the size of the estate, it may qualify for a simplified probate process or even a small estate affidavit, which can avoid the long process of probate court. In some cases, specific assets will have beneficiary designations or transfer-on-death designations, which means that you can take ownership of those assets outside of probate.

Q: What Is the Right of Survivorship in Oklahoma?

A: A right of survivorship in Oklahoma occurs when parties have joint ownership or joint tenancy in an asset with the right of survivorship. When two people have this type of joint ownership, the asset transfers to the full ownership of one co-owner if the other dies. This can keep the asset outside of probate.

However, there can be additional complications when using this method of transfer, and other forms of estate planning may be more successful. Transferring assets through trusts keeps assets out of probate, with fewer tax implications.

Q: How Much Does an Estate Have to Be Worth to Go to Probate in Oklahoma?

A: An estate worth more than $200,000 in probatable assets will go to probate in Oklahoma unless steps are taken through comprehensive estate planning. If the estate is worth equal to or less than $200,000, then an interested person can petition for summary administration. This is still probate, but it is less complicated and may be faster. If the estate is worth $50,000 or less, interested parties can request a small estate affidavit to avoid probate entirely.

Protecting Your Interests With a Comprehensive Estate Plan

A will or estate plan does not avoid succession laws if it is void and unenforceable. Working with an attorney helps you create a will that supports your wishes and is legally valid. Contact Stange Law Firm today.