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Strategies for steering clear of the probate process

On Behalf of | Dec 5, 2022 | Probate and Trust Administration

The death of a relative inevitably brings a host of tasks such as planning a funeral, notifying family members and tending to the immediate needs of grieving loved ones, but after all of that comes the difficult process of handling the departed person’s estate. Given the dread with which many face the prospect of slogging through probate in Oklahoma, it makes good sense for everyone to familiarize themselves with some useful strategies for keeping things out of court.

Techniques for avoiding probate

When it comes to distributing a loved one’s assets following their death, the pace of probate can be painfully slow. Indeed, waiting for the process of probate to fully play out can put beneficiaries in a difficult position if they have an urgent need for the resources the decedent intended to provide to them.

Fortunately, there are some valuable steps individuals can take during their estate planning journey that can greatly reduce or even eliminate the need for probate entirely, including:

  • Assigning beneficiaries on life insurance accounts and retirement funds
  • Taking advantage of “transfer on death” designations for real estate and other assets
  • Establishing a living trust

All of the above techniques can help ensure that a decedent’s final objectives with regard to asset distribution are met in a timely manner with the least degree of hassle and expense to the desired recipients.

The occasional usefulness of probate

As cumbersome and onerous as the probate process can sometimes be, there are instances in which it does serve a potentially valuable purpose when it comes to protecting distributable assets. Because probate limits the time frame in which creditors can file claims against an estate, it prevents those entities from later pursuing beneficiaries for monies owed. Court-supervised disposition of estates can also be useful in contentious cases where full accounting and transparency are critical to thwarting ongoing contests.

However, for those who have a clear plan of how they want their estate disbursed after death and desire to mitigate the length of time it takes for those wishes to be effectuated, sidestepping probate and utilizing one or more savvy planning techniques can be a truly wise choice.