Q: How is my estate administered if I die without a will?
A: Last week, we defined “probate” as a judicial proceeding to administer a decedent’s last will and testament. We also distinguished an “estate administration” proceeding from a probate proceeding by explaining that an administration is the process used when the decedent died without a will. So, the question now is how does the process work if the decedent died without a will?
First, laws regarding property that pass outside of a decedent’s will equally apply to property that is in an estate without a will. Property that is held in joint tenancy with another person will pass to the survivor without the need for an estate administration. Most married couples own their homes in joint tenancy, and many single people hold real estate in joint tenancy with another person. Cars are often titled in two names. These joint assets pass to the survivor without going to court. But there are some caveats. Joint property can still be subject to payment of the decedent’s debts and taxes. In addition, the surviving joint tenant must file an affidavit with the county clerk in order to become the sole owner of jointly owned real estate.
Assets that the decedent held in his name individually, though, will most likely have to go through an estate administration. The process here is virtually identical to a probate proceeding for a person who died with a will. An interested party, usually a spouse or child, files a petition to administer the decedent’s estate and provides notice to all heirs. The court will appoint an administrator of the estate. The administrator will be charged with collecting and providing an inventory of all the decedent’s assets and liabilities. The administrator will be responsible for notifying the decedent’s creditors to present their claims for payment and for paying all just debts. Depending on the size and nature of the estate, the administrator may have to file estate tax returns or final income tax returns.
Ultimately, the administrator will file a final accounting and ask the court for authority to distribute the estate’s assets to the proper persons. Once approved, the administrator will distribute the assets to the decedent’s heirs and the proceeding will be closed. To whom the assets are distributed when there is no will is well settled and complex. We’ll discuss that issue next week.
MATT HOPKINS is an attorney for Lester, Loving & Davies P.C. More information is available at lldlaw.com. Send questions to
Q: How is my estate administered if I die without a will?
3-8 Edmond Senior Center calendar
For information about Edmond senior programs, stop by and pick up a monthly calendar, check out the website at edmondseniorcenter.com or call 216-7600. Lunch is served at 11:30 a.m. and reservations are needed a day in advance by 11 a.m. For lunch reservations, call 330-6293 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
AS I SEE IT: Impatiently waiting for spring
Snow is sheeting off my neighbor’s roof as I sit at the desk thumbing through Soft Surroundings’ spring catalog. I can’t find a thing I want, and that’s never a good sign. What’s the use of thumb shopping when it looks like there might not even be a spring this year? But then comes the rolling thunder, and I half expect the snow to rearrange itself into a swirling spring funnel. Hamlet would say the time is out of joint, and I’d have to agree for a number of reasons.
In addition to this ongoing abominable weather, I personally have been plagued by a number of both literal and figurative out-of-joint events including a near-fatal trip to Bed Bath & Beyond.
Most deadly fraternity scraps initiation for new members
Sigma Alpha Epsilon, one of the largest U.S. fraternities and the deadliest, said Friday it will ban the initiation of recruits, citing the toll that hazing has taken on its newest members.
ProCure encourages Oklahomans to screen for cancer
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, cancer is the second-leading cause of death in Oklahoma. ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Oklahoma City, a treatment facility that uses proton therapy to help patients fight cancer, is encouraging Oklahomans to understand the importance of regular screening and early detection for various types of cancers.
Don’t let pond issues become major problems
Managing ponds is a lot like doing laundry in the sense that if you do not keep up with it, you could be overwhelmed.
Stay the course with potty training
Q: I’ve been using the method described in your toilet-training book with my 18-month-old daughter and she’s been doing great during the day. She rarely has an accident. However, I’m still using a diaper at nap-time and during the night (waiting for some consistency in dryness before taking that away). Is that correct? The only problem is she’s figured out the routine and now only poops in her diaper when I put her down to sleep. She has not gone poop on the potty during the day for several weeks. Is that cause for concern? Should I take away the diapers totally? I don’t want to create a bad habit. Thanks!
Iris Lochner remains young at heart
It was a hot humid afternoon in August when my 9-year-old grand daughter had asked me to drive her to the Fine Arts Institute of Edmond to find out about the Edmond Youth Chorus. I didn’t want to go. I was tired, my energy depleted from the 100-degree heat. But I took her, mentally griping the whole way.
How to maintain a home throughout the years
According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average cost of maintaining a home is $558 per year. Across the board, experts advise homeowners set aside 1 to 2 percent of the cost of their home for home repairs. Maintenance and repairs can’t always be avoided but some steps can be taken to decrease the frequency and cost, especially regarding heating and air.
Changing your brain keeps it sharp as you age
After she retired from her job as a medical transcriptionist, Elaine Savage grew isolated. She rarely went out or talked to friends on the phone. She relied on her family to do her grocery shopping.
Brownville: Where retirees go to work
I firmly believe that if retirees don’t find meaningful activities, they do not flourish. It’s the same with little towns — stay active or die. Brownville, Neb., could have done that. Thanks to some brilliant and committed folks creating second careers, Brownville now is making a comeback.
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