How to Avoid Probate in Oklahoma – An Overview
You’ve heard how important it is to start your estate planning as early as possible. Now that you’re thinking about your future, you’re looking into ways you can go about estate planning that will guarantee the best results possible for you and your loved ones. You want to protect your assets to the greatest extent, after all. By learning how to avoid probate in Oklahoma and asking an estate planning attorney for assistance, you can do just that.
Entz Burton & Associates has assisted Oklahoma families and family-owned businesses with estate planning and business law for over 30 years. Reach out to Entz Burton & Associates today to schedule your free consultation.
What Is Probate?
Probate is a legal process that involves reviewing a will to figure out if it is authentic and valid. It also involves the administering of a deceased individual’s will or their estate if they did not have a will. The courts will appoint an executor of the will or of the estate if there was no will to administer the probate process. The executor will be responsible for distributing assets to beneficiaries as well as gathering the deceased individuals’ assets in order to pay any outstanding debts. In the end, the probate court will decide how assets are going to be divided and distributed amongst beneficiaries.
The probate process can take a long time, especially if the estate is contested or complicated, and the longer it takes, the more expensive it’s going to be. Usually, it’s more expensive to probate an estate without a will. Since probate is a public process, predatory creditors could come after the estate looking to be paid money from it. If you need the advice and service of an experienced Oklahoma City probate lawyer, Entz Burton & Associates is highly experienced in administration, litigation and contested Wills.
By determining how you can avoid probate, you can save the estate money and save everyone involved time and energy. Thankfully, there are a few different ways to go about it. Here are some you may want to consider.
Revocable Living Trust – This is a popular option because it will not only help you avoid probate, but also you have control over the trust until you pass away. After you die, the trust will be not be included as part of your probate estate because it belongs to a trustee. The trustee can transfer the trust property to your loved ones when you pass, and the trust will not have to go through probate.
You have full control over whom you want to inherit your assets with a revocable living trust, and you can change it at any time. This is especially helpful if you experience some big life changes. For instance, you may get married, have children, or get remarried to someone else, or your spouse or another beneficiary could pass away. You could also revoke it altogether at any time. If you created it with your spouse, then you’ll both need to agree to the changes in writing.
Irrevocable Trust – You can also use an irrevocable trust to avoid probate, though most people would prefer a revocable living trust instead. This is because once you establish the trust you cannot change it. You should only use an irrevocable trust if you work in a field where you’re vulnerable to lawsuits, such as the medical field, or otherwise need to protect your money. This is because an irrevocable trust is protected from legal judgments and creditors.
Add Joint Ownership to a Property – If you own any property, then it won’t have to go through the probate process if you bring in a joint owner. After you pass away, the property will automatically go to the surviving owner.
In Oklahoma, you can set up one of two types of joint ownership. The first is joint tenancy. Couples can set this up whether or not they are married. The property will go to the surviving person upon the other one’s death. There is also tenancy by the entirety, but it’s only for married couples in Oklahoma.
Use Transfer-on-Death Deeds for Real Estate – You can leave your real estate property to a loved one with a transfer-on-death deed, also known as a beneficiary deed. The beneficiary that you designate will not be able to do anything until you die, so you can sell the property or revoke the deed whenever you want.
Utilize Transfer-on-Death Registration for Vehicles – If you plan on giving your vehicle to a loved one, then you can avoid having to put the vehicle through probate by filling out a transfer-on-death registration form. Your beneficiary will automatically receive the vehicle when you pass away.
Set Up Transfer-on-Death Registration for Your Securities – You can register your stocks and bonds through a transfer-on-death form. Then, the beneficiary will inherit your securities account when you pass away. They will work with the brokerage firm where you hold your securities in order to do the transfer, and they won’t have to go through probate.
Name Beneficiaries on Your Bank and Retirement Accounts – Another way to avoid probate is by naming beneficiaries on your bank accounts, 401K plans, IRA accounts, bonds, stocks, pension plans, and life insurance policies. Your assets in these accounts will be payable on death. When you’re setting up your accounts or meeting with a banker, insurance salesperson, or broker, make sure you ask for the right forms to fill out to name your beneficiaries.
Choosing the Right Estate Planning Tools for Your Needs
It’s critical to weigh all your options when attempting to avoid probate. The best way to go about estate planning is to get in touch with an experienced estate planning attorney who has worked with people in similar situations to yours. They will have the knowledge and skills to lead you in the right direction and ensure that you and your loved ones are safeguarded during this crucial time. Then, you won’t have to worry about their future – or yours.
Contact Entz Burton & Associates
If you need help with estate planning in order to avoid probate and protect your assets and loved ones, then get in touch with Entz Burton & Associates today for your free consultation. Call us at 405-773-9800 or 800-633-7230, or contact us on our website. We look forward to helping you.
Attorney J. Michael Entz at Entz Burton & Associates is an experience lawyer in estate planning law, business formation and asset protection serving the families in Oklahoma City and Weatherford office.