Oklahoma City Probate Lawyer & Trust Administration
Probate and Trust Administration is a specialized legal field that deals with the distribution of assets according to a deceased person’s Last Will and Testament (Will) or Trust documents.
Probate and trust law differs from state to state, and our Oklahoma City probate and trust administration attorneys work on behalf of executors, trustees, personal representatives, administrators, and other fiduciaries in order to ensure that our clients’ wishes are carried out according to their estate planning documents.
Our experienced Oklahoma City probate lawyers at Entz Burton & Associates can help individuals through the probate and trust administration process. Our legal team can also assist business owners, heirs and beneficiaries, homeowners, and anyone that has oil, gas & mineral interests.
Understanding the Probate Process in Oklahoma
The Oklahoma Probate process is the legal process in which a Will’s personal representative carries out its terms or, in the case of no Will, an estate’s administrator follows the intestacy laws of Oklahoma, by gathering, paying any debts and taxes owed, and distributing property to heirs or beneficiaries, etc.
Probate is generally necessary when someone dies and all the assets of their estate are not distributed by their own terms. Probates begin by determining whether a person died with a Will (testate) or without a Will (intestate). As a fiduciary, the personal representative, administrator, or executor has certain legal responsibilities which are imposed on them as they carry out their duties under the probate process. The main responsibility of an executor is to ensure that the wishes of the deceased person and the laws of the state of Oklahoma are appropriately followed and carried out.
When you are told that “Letters Testamentary” or “Letters of Administration” are required in order to access an account or sell property belonging to a deceased person, a probate will likely be required. Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration are granted to an executor within the probate and authorize the executor to transact on behalf of the estate.
The probate process in the state of Oklahoma involves the court system and can be legally complicated and challenging. Probate court proceedings are presided over by a probate judge who has the power to order and enforce decisions about estates. The executor is responsible for presenting evidence that proves their knowledge of the decedent’s Will, as well as any other relevant estate-related documents such as deeds or trusts. The goal of all these hearings is to make certain the estate assets are distributed according to what was written in the decedent’s Will or, if there was no Will according to the intestacy laws of the state of Oklahoma.
Understanding Fiduciary Duty
In Oklahoma, an executor, trustee, administrator, or personal representative has a fiduciary duty to the estate and all beneficiaries or heirs. This means that the person named in a Will to carry out estate administration, or who is chosen by the court if no such designation is made, cannot use their position to enrich themselves or fail to act in accordance with the decedent’s instructions. The same standard applies to a trustee of a trust. The fiduciary duty also includes keeping detailed records and accounts of all transactions related to the decedent’s assets during probate proceedings and trust administration.
How Working with an Oklahoma Probate and Trust Administration Attorney Can Help You Uphold Your Fiduciary Duties
Our probate and trust administration attorneys can help you understand the fiduciary duty that comes with being an executor or trustee. Working closely with an attorney will allow you to better manage your time and make sure the task is completed according to what has been specifically laid out in a decedent’s Will, Trust, or other estate planning documents.
In addition to providing valuable legal counsel and guidance, our probate and trust administration attorneys can also help you avoid unexpected fees or penalties. Probate law is complex with many intricacies that could result in substantial fees if the process is not handled correctly. An experienced probate and trust administration attorney will be able to alert you of any potential issues before they arise so that you can take the appropriate measures to avoid common pitfalls.
As part of their fiduciary duty, an executor, trustee, administrator, or personal representative of an estate must also ensure taxes are calculated correctly and property is transferred according to a document’s instructions. There may be certain deadlines set forth in a person’s Will, Trust, or other estate planning document that need to be met by a given date to avoid losing the opportunity to transfer property without incurring additional costs.
The executor, trustee, administrator, or personal representative of an estate, as well as other fiduciaries, must be careful not to make any unnecessary distributions from an estate or a trust until all debts are paid off in full. This means that if, for example, there is real estate held by a Trust which has both mortgages and loans attached to it, distributions cannot be made until these debts are accounted for. After all debts are satisfied, our firm can help make certain that assets are properly transferred to heirs or beneficiaries by preparing any necessary deeds, assignments, or other required documents.
It is also important to note that distributions from accounts with pay-on-death designations should not take place before certain trigger points as it is necessary for beneficiaries’ rights to vest.
We can also assist trustees with preparing trust accountings and in managing Trusts that are set up to continue after the death of the settlor (person originally establishing the trust)
An experienced probate and trust administration attorney can help you understand all of your legal obligations and rights when it comes to distribution of assets from a trust or estate.
Contact Our Experienced Oklahoma Probate & Trust Administration Attorneys Today
If you are an executor, trustee, administrator, or personal representative of an estate, call an experienced Oklahoma City probate attorney at Entz Burton & Associates today to help you through the complexities of probate and trust administration. We have helped many fiduciaries with estate administration and will ensure that you fulfill all of your duties and obligations under the law in the state of Oklahoma. We look forward to visiting with you. Contact our legal team today in our Warr Acres, Oklahoma office at 405-773-9800 to learn more.