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Dispelling 5 common myths about probate

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2024 | Probate and Trust Administration

In Oklahoma, probate is a court-supervised legal process that occurs after a person dies. It ensures the payment of the deceased’s debts and distribution of assets to beneficiaries as specified in their will. If there is no valid will, state intestacy laws decide the asset distribution.

Probate can seem complex and daunting, and is often surrounded by misconceptions. Understanding the truths behind these myths can help demystify probate, making it more approachable for everyone.

Myth 1: Probate takes forever

Many believe that probate is a never-ending process. While it can take time, especially for complex estates, many probates conclude within a year. The duration often depends on the estate’s size, the clarity of the will and the jurisdiction’s specific laws.

Myth 2: Probate costs a fortune

Another common myth is that probate will drain the estate of its assets due to high costs. Although there are fees involved, such as court fees and costs for managing the estate, they usually represent a small fraction of the estate’s total value. By organizing affairs well, one can minimize probate costs.

Myth 3: Probate is public, so everyone will know my business

It is true that probate is a public process, and documents become part of the public record. However, this does not mean everyone will go looking through these records. In most cases, the details of an estate go unnoticed by the general public.

Myth 4: If I have a will, my estate will not go through probate

Having a will does not avoid probate; it guides the process. A will outlines how to distribute assets and can help streamline probate, but it does not eliminate the need for the process. Some assets, like those held in trust or with designated beneficiaries, can bypass probate.

Myth 5: The state takes everything if there is no will

This myth causes unnecessary worry. If someone dies without a will, state laws of intestacy decide how to distribute assets, usually to the closest relatives. The state only inherits assets as a last resort if there are no identifiable heirs.

Probate does not have to be an overwhelming or frightening process. By understanding what it involves and what it does not, individuals can better prepare and navigate the process more smoothly.