A last will and testament is an important step in planning the distribution of your estate (real and personal property) upon your death. Oklahoma wills permit the testator, the person writing the will, to provide for a spouse, children, other loved ones, and pets after his death as well as to name a personal representative for the estate.
Not to be confused with a will, an Oklahoma living will, or advance directive, provides instructions should you become incapacitated and incapable of making decisions regarding your medical care.
Do You Need a Last Will and Testament?
Although a last will and testament is not legally required, without a will, state laws (called laws of intestacy) determine the distribution of an estate's assets. Because the outcome may not coincide with the decedent's (the deceased) wishes, it is generally advisable to create a last will and testament.
In addition to providing the opportunity to direct asset distribution, LegalZoom’s Oklahoma last will and testament form also allows the testator to make a charitable gift, create a trust for any person, name a legal guardian for minor children, or create a “pet trust” in order to provide for the care of an animal after its owner’s death.
Before the terms of a will can be accepted, the will must be proven in probate court. Probate is the court-supervised process of distributing the estate of a deceased person.
In Oklahoma, a petition must be filed with the District Court to determine whether the decedent died with a valid will in place. From there, the appointed personal representative can proceed to wrap up the estate by taking inventory, paying debts, and distributing assets.
Oklahoma also offers a simplified probate process for estates valued at less than $200,000 as well as an affidavit process available in some instances.
Intestacy: Dying Without a Will
Someone who dies without a will is called “intestate,” which invokes the strict laws of intestacy. In Oklahoma in the absence of a will, a surviving spouse inherits the entire estate unless the couple shares descendants, in which case the spouse and descendants each inherit half. A decedent’s parents are also entitled to a part of the estate if there is a surviving spouse but no shared children or other descendants.
If there is no surviving spouse, descendants, or parents, other relatives, including siblings and grandparents, will inherit depending on the closeness of the relation.
Exceptions to Ability to Distribute Property
Not all property can be distributed according to a will. Some exceptions include the following:
- Property owned in joint tenancy with right of survivorship
- Life insurance policy proceeds
- Elective share of surviving spouse if excluded from the will
- Homestead exception for surviving spouse
Form a Last Will in Oklahoma
The basic requirements for an Oklahoma last will and testament include the following:
- Age: The testator must be at least 18 years old.
- Capacity: The testator must be of sound mind.
- Signature: The will must be signed by the testator or by someone else in the testator’s name in his presence, by his direction.
- Witnesses: An Oklahoma will must be signed by at least two individuals who should also write their place of residence next to their signatures.
- Writing: An Oklahoma will must be in writing, except for nuncupative wills, which must meet strict requirements under Oklahoma law.
- Beneficiaries: A testator can leave property to anyone.
Other Recognized Wills in Oklahoma
Oklahoma recognizes two other types of wills under specific circumstances: nuncupative (oral) wills and holographic (handwritten) wills.
Changing an Oklahoma Last Will and Testament
An Oklahoma will may be changed at any time by codicil (an amendment to the will), which must be executed in the same way as a will.
Revoking an Oklahoma Last Will and Testament
The revocation of an Oklahoma will can be accomplished by a subsequent will or by “being burnt, torn, canceled, obliterated or destroyed” by either the testator or by someone else at his direction in his presence.
Note that in Oklahoma, if the testator gets divorced or has his marriage annulled after executing a will, certain provisions in favor of the ex-spouse are revoked.
When you are ready to make a last will, LegalZoom can help you start a last will in three easy steps. LegalZoom also offers other legal documents and services to help you plan for your future, such as our living will and access to a network of affordable attorneys.