When a loved one passes away the last thing you want to worry about is probating their estate. Unfortunately, this is a necessary evil, and must occur in almost all cases. Depending on the value of your loved one’s estate, the Oklahoma probate process can be relatively quick and painless, at least by Oklahoma standards.

The normal Oklahoma probate process is one of the more cumbersome in the United States, and usually takes six (6) months at the minimum to complete. The longer this time period, the longer beneficiaries under a will or statutory intestacy scheme have to wait to get the proceeds of the estate.

Summary Administration Proceedings for Small Estates

In an effort to combat this problem, Oklahoma passed a Summary Probate Act about thirteen (13) years ago, which created a “summary administration” procedure for small estates (estates comprising of $175,000 or less).

Oklahoma’s goal was to reduce the time and expense associated with probating estates. The act contains three (3) sections, and can be found at Okla. Stat. tit. 58, §§ 245, 246, and 247.

Requirements

In probate cases using the summary administration proceedings, you can file a probate and get a final decree in about 60 days, but only if the estate meets one of the following three conditions:

  1. Value of the estate is $175,000 or less;
  2. Decedent has been dead for at least five years; or
  3. Decedent lived in another state at the time of death, but owns property in Oklahoma.

Because there is no hearing in a summary administration to appoint a personal representative, a special administrator is now appointed when the petition is filed. To be appointed special administrator:

  1. The special administrator must be named the personal representative in the decedent’s will or have a prior right of appointment;
  2. The petition must be accompanied by waivers by all persons who would otherwise be entitled to being appointed the personal representative.

Benefits

Much Quicker Process than Usual Probate Proceedings

The whole process can take slightly less than 60 days, but only if all the requirements for giving notice to creditors are met.

The Special Administrator and Their Attorney Will Only Have to Go to One Hearing

Under normal probate proceedings, there will be at least two hearings, a hearing to admit the will to probate and appoint the personal representative, and a hearing on the final account. However, there is only one hearing in the summary administration proceedings. The initial hearing to admit the will to probate and appoint the personal representative is done away with. Admission of the will to probate is delayed until the final hearing. A special administrator and his or her attorney will only need to appear in court for a hearing once, at the final hearing.

Expense on Estate

Because the summary administration process requires one less hearing, and less documents to be filed, the attorney’s fee for the process will be somewhat cheaper than for normal probate. There will still be costs for sending notice to creditors, publishing notice in a newspaper, and for filing fees though.

Negatives

Short Deadlines May Work Against You

While the quickened process can be a great positive, it can also be a negative if you feel you might have trouble meeting the required deadlines. This is something that will come down to personal choice.

Overall, it will be best to talk with an Oklahoma probate attorney about your specific case before coming to a decision on how to handle your loved one’s estate.