Oklahoma law allows for three primary types of probate proceedings, each differing in the minimum length to completion and each having a unique set of requirements that must be satisfied.
Ancillary Probate Proceeding.
An ancillary probate is one in which the decedent resided outside the state of Oklahoma at death, a probate in his/her home state has been finalized, and certain strict requirements enumerated by Oklahoma law are satisfied. This process takes approximately 30 days from the date of filing. However, because final decrees issued in many, if not most, states do not meet the strict requirements, this procedure is not often an option.
Summary Probate Proceeding.
For estates following within the following parameters, a summary probate proceeding may be a good fit:
- The decedent resided out of state at his/her death, the total value of the estate is less than $200,000, or more than 5 years have lapsed since the decedent’s death;
- There are no anticipated creditors; and
- No property will be sold during the probate.
A summary probate takes approximately 60 days to complete from the date of filing. Extreme caution must be exercised by the attorney conducting the summary probate, however, as the requirements are stringent and unforgiving. In addition, summary proceedings are often not a good option when there are creditors of the estate, when a piece of property needs to be sold during the probate proceeding, or when disagreement is anticipated.
Traditional Probate Proceeding.
A traditional probate proceeding can be used in all instances. This process can take as little as 4 months to conclude, depending on the circumstances. For complex estates – those involving creditors, family disputes, etc. – the timeline could be much longer. Our probate attorneys seek to minimize the time required to conduct and conclude a traditional probate, though it is the longest of the three probate proceedings.
No probate at all.
On occasion, an estate can be handled entirely without a probate, assuming that certain steps were taken by the deceased party prior to his/her death. We always seek to determine whether this is the case before proceeding with a probate.
It is important to speak to an experienced probate attorney that can advise on the most efficient (yet effective) probate method, and who can guide the client through the process to make it as easy and stress-free as possible.
About the Author
Carissa King, J.D. is an associate attorney at Christensen Law Group, PLLC. She is an expert in estate planning, trust and probate administration, real property, and business transactions. You can read more about her and her legal experience here.