Oklahoma offers two probate shortcuts for "small estates." This makes it easier for survivors to transfer property left by a person who has died. You may be able to transfer a large amount of property using these shortcuts -- saving time, money, and hassle.
Here are the two ways you can skip or speed up probate. (If the affidavit procedure is used, there's no need to use the simplified probate procedure.)
Oklahoma has a procedure that allows inheritors to skip probate altogether when the value of all the assets left behind is less than a certain amount. All an inheritor has to do is prepare a short document, stating that he or she is entitled to a certain asset. This document, signed under oath, is called an affidavit. When the person or institution holding the property -- for example, a bank where the deceased person had an account -- gets the affidavit and a copy of the death certificate, it releases the asset.
The out-of-court affidavit procedure is available if the fair market value of the estate in Oklahoma, less liens and encumbrances, is $50,000 or less. There is a ten-day waiting period. The inheritor can use this process to change the registered owner of a severed mineral interest, stock, bond, or other registered personal property. 58 Okla. Stat. Ann § 393.
Oklahoma has a simplified probate process for small estates. To use it, an inheritor files a written request with the local probate court asking to use the simplified procedure. The court may authorize the executor to distribute the assets without having to jump through the hoops of regular probate.
You can use the simplified small estate process in Oklahoma if the value of the estate is $200,000 or less, if the deceased person has been dead for more than five years, or if he or she resided in another state at the time of death. 58 Okla. Stat. Ann § 245.
The request must contain the following information:
The court then provides notice to creditors and schedules a final hearing. 58 Okla. Stat. Ann § 246.
For help determining if an estate qualifies for one of these probate shortcuts, or handling an estate in general, see The Executor's Guide, by Mary Randolph (Nolo) or Estate Planning Basics, by Denis Clifford (Nolo).