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Oklahoma Inheritance Laws

It seems simple enough to write a will and choose who you want to inherit your property. But things can get murky you haven’t completed a valid will prior to your death, as Oklahoma’s intestate succession laws will take over. If you’re looking to begin planning your will and estate and understanding Oklahoma inheritance laws, the SmartAdvisor tool will match you with advisors in your area that fit your needs.

Does Oklahoma Have an Inheritance Tax or Estate Tax?

Oklahoma, like the majority of U.S. states, has abolished all inheritance taxes and estate taxes. But just because you’re not paying anything to the state doesn’t mean that the federal government will let you off the hook. Estates and their executors are still required to file the following:

  • Final individual federal and state income tax returns – each due by tax day of the year following the individual’s death
  • Federal estate/trust income tax return – due by April 15 of the year following the individual’s death
  • Federal estate tax return – due nine months after the individual’s death, though an automatic six-month extension is available if asked for prior to the conclusion of the nine-month period
    • This is required only of individual estates that exceed a gross asset and prior taxable gift value of $11.4 million

You’ll need to apply with the IRS for an employer identification number (EIN) online, by fax or by mail to ensure that the estate is filed with the federal government. This is the official ID number used on federal and state tax filings of any kind related to your estate.

Dying With a Will in Oklahoma

Four factors must be included in a professional or handwritten will for it to be considered valid, or testate, based on Oklahoma inheritance laws:

  • Heirs are clearly named
  • An executor or personal representative has been chosen
  • The decedent signed it in front of two witnesses
    • Each witness also signed the will

Executors are vital to the management of a will. Not only are they responsible for ensuring that heirs receive what they’re due, but they also must use assets within the estate to pay off any debts, liabilities or final expenses the decedent may have had prior to inheritances being carried out.

While oral wills are accepted under state law, they cannot dictate the distribution of assets or property worth more than $1,000, according to Oklahoma inheritance laws. On top of that, two individuals must have heard the decedent’s wishes being spoken after having been asked to be a witness, and the decedent must have been in the military or otherwise in fear of his or her death.

Dying Without a Will in Oklahoma

Oklahoma Inheritance Laws

An estate is titled intestate if the will drawn up is invalid, there was no will created or the will was written under some form of outside influence or as part of fraudulent activity. In any of these situations, the inheritance of an estate’s property is unfortunately taken out of the control of the decedent. To allocate the assets, Oklahoma inheritance laws will choose heirs based on intestate succession.

Of course, you can easily avoid all this trouble sound estate planning.

The Probate Process in Oklahoma Inheritance Law

Probate could be necessary regardless of if a decedent had a valid will or not. If he or she did, then the probate courts will want to protect the wishes of the decedent. But for intestate estates, probate ensures that intestate succession laws are followed to a tee. Also, because an intestate estate does not have its own executor named, the probate court will name one who’s close enough to the family and/or decedent to know the estate.

But probate isn’t always necessary, as certain estates are labeled “small estates” and therefore bypass these proceedings. To become part of this distinction, an estate must be worth less than $50,000 in total value, after debts and liabilities have been removed, according to Oklahoma inheritance laws. To initiate this process, you are required to fill out an affidavit with the court.

Spouses in Oklahoma Inheritance Law

Intestate decedents without any children, parents or siblings who survive them have their estate given, in full, to their spouse. But if the couple had kids, the intestate estate is divided evenly between the spouse and all of their children.

Although jointly acquired property between spouses might be assumed to end up with the surviving spouse, if the decedent had children from outside their marriage, everything changes. When this occurs, the children and spouse will divide the joint and personal property in half.

The same rules apply if either your parents or siblings survive you, along with a spouse. For this, any property you acquired together during your marriage and a third of the estate’s balance will go to your spouse, and whatever is left over goes to your siblings or parents.

It’s important to remember that if you drafted a will during a past marriage and listed your ex-spouse as an heir, the state will assume you wanted them disinherited. Therefore, if you split up with a spouse, be sure to refresh your will to indicate your wishes clearly.

Children in Oklahoma Inheritance Law

How much children will inherit from their deceased parent is dependent on two questions: are the children that of the surviving spouse and are they the only children of the decedent? If the answer is yes to both, then the estate is split evenly between the children and spouse. For all other situations, though, the children are entitled to half of the jointly acquired property from the marriage, as well as half of the rest of the estate.

Intestate Succession: Spouses & Children
Inheritance Situation Who Inherits Your Property
– If spouse, but no children, siblings or parents – Entire estate to spouse
– If spouse, and only children from marriage – 1/2 of the estate to spouse
– 1/2 of the estate to children
– If spouse, and children from marriage and another relationship – 1/2 of all jointly acquired property to spouse
– 1/2 of all jointly acquired property to children
– Balance of estate split evenly between spouse and children
– If spouse and parents – All jointly acquired property to spouse
– 1/3 of the estate’s balance to spouse
– Leftover to parents
– If spouse and siblings – All jointly acquired property to spouse
– 1/3 of the estate’s balance to spouse
– Leftover to siblings

Foster children and stepchildren of a decedent often spend exceedingly long periods of time living in their home. However, no length of time will afford these children a part of your intestate estate. But if you choose to adopt them, they’ll garner the full inheritance rights of a biological child.

Grandchildren often receive inheritances when there’s a valid will created, but the intestate succession process doesn’t include them. Should their parent (your child) predecease you, though, the grandchild becomes eligible for an intestate inheritance.

A child is considered to be biologically yours if your wife gave birth to him or her while you were married. Therefore, if you feel that child is not of your blood, you must prove it, or that child becomes part of your intestate estate.

Should you pass away following your child’s conception, but before he or she is born, your child will remain entitled to a piece of your intestate estate as if a child who was born during your lifetime, according to Oklahoma inheritance laws.

Oklahoma statutes protect certain children and grandchildren from being left out of a testate will if it was done unintentionally. However, if there appears to be a valid reason that they were omitted, the court will uphold the will’s orders.

Unmarried Individuals Without Children in Oklahoma Inheritance Law

Surviving spouses and children are the most common types of intestate inheritors. But because not everyone will have these heirs, Oklahoma has laid out the following order of intestate succession:

Intestate Succession: Extended Family
Inheritance Situation Who Inherits Your Property
– If parents, but no spouse and children – Entire estate to parents
– If no parents – Estate split evenly among siblings
– If no siblings – Estate split evenly between paternal/maternal grandparents
– If no grandparents – Estate split evenly between paternal/maternal aunts and uncles
– If no aunts and uncles – Estate to nearest lineal relative

The intestate succession process was built for the sole purpose of finding a surviving relative that can inherit your estate properly, but not every situation can necessarily be figured out. If the list of possible heirs runs out, the estate will escheat into the hands of the state of Oklahoma.

Non-Probate Oklahoma Inheritances

Because certain types of assets and accounts require the naming of a beneficiary, they are considered non-probate by the Oklahoma court system. This allows them to be passed on much more quickly, though you can make your estate the beneficiary and include it in the typical inheritance process.

Life insurance payouts, transfer-on-death, and pay-on-death accounts, property held in a trust, 401(k)s, IRAs and joint tenancy property all fall into this category, according to Oklahoma inheritance laws.

Other Situations in Oklahoma Inheritance Law

Oklahoma Inheritance Laws

Half-blooded relatives are identical in terms of inheritance rights to any of their full-blooded counterparts. So even if you only share a mother or father with a sibling, he or she is entitled to your intestate estate as the law sees fit.

Oklahoma does not take into account heirs’ legal residency or U.S. citizenship status when implementing intestate succession. So even if your relative is deemed an illegal alien, he or she is entitled to their legal share of your estate.

If you die as a result of another person’s criminal actions, he or she will completely lose out on any chance to inherit from your intestate estate. There is no exceptions to this law, even if a will explicitly names the person an heir.

Resources for Estate Planning

Managing your own estate, or handling the intricacies of inheriting money from the estate of a loved one who has passed away, includes many complex factors to consider. You might want help for this possibly overwhelming venture, as there are taxes to file, court proceedings and more possibly on the horizon.

The SmartAsset financial advisor matching tool focuses on financial advisors in your area, matching you with up to three advisors that are able to handle your estate and inheritance planning needs and understanding of Oklahoma inheritance laws. Matches are found based on your answers to a few simple questions, so be as specific as possible when stating what you’re looking to handle in your financial life.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/eric1513, ©iStock.com/DustyPixel

Chris Thompson, CEPF® Chris Thompson is a retirement, savings, mortgage and credit card expert at SmartAsset. He has reviewed hundreds of credit cards and loves helping people find the one that best matches their financial needs. Chris is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance® (CEPF®) and a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. He graduated from Montclair State University where he received the Journalism Achievement Award. Chris’ articles have been featured in places like Yahoo Finance, MSN and Bleacher Report. He lives in New Jersey and is a Mets, Jets and Nets fan.
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