When someone dies in Oklahoma, their property may end up passing through probate court as part of the estate administration process. Family members and trusted friends often step into the role of executor or personal representative. They then handle the estate administration process in order to fulfill someone’s last wishes.
There is a lot of responsibility that comes with estate administration, and executors who fail to take the appropriate steps may end up facing legal and/or financial consequences. Those who know the obligations of the role can make an informed decision concerning whether they should accept the position. These are three of the most important responsibilities for someone who is tasked with managing an estate in Oklahoma.
Handling the probate process
Someone intending to manage an estate on behalf of another person who recently died will typically need to locate the estate planning paperwork and submit the necessary documents to the local probate courts. The size of the estate and its contents will determine how much oversight the courts provide. Initiating probate proceedings and communicating with the courts are both major steps in estate administration and a key responsibility of every executor.
Notifying and paying creditors
One of the most important responsibilities of any executor is the obligation to let creditors know about estate administration so that they can make a claim and probate court. They will both have to send direct notice to known creditors and publish official notice for unknown creditors. Those that make a claim will then require repayment from estate assets. Failure to make appropriate payments could leave the representative of the estate responsible for any remaining debt if they mishandled estate resources.
Distributing assets according to instructions
There are two potential sources of instructions for the distribution of estate resources. The first will be the will or other testamentary documents left by the decedent. They may name specific beneficiaries for individual assets or may leave instructions for the sale of their assets so that their beneficiaries can share the proceeds from those sales.
The second source of instructions would be Oklahoma’s intestate succession law, which will apply in scenarios wherein the individual who has died does not have an estate plan on record. Seeking legal guidance to better understand and fulfill the basic responsibilities of an executor can help someone to avoid delays and unnecessary complications during the probate process.