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Will your real estate go through the probate process?

Many Oklahoma residents have questions about the probate process and how it could affect their estate. One of the most common concerns involves real estate, and what happens to pieces of property when an individual dies without a will. Unfortunately, when there is no will or other estate planning documents to guide the distribution of an individual's assets, the court will determine who gets what. These issues are typically sorted out in Probate Court, and it is a scenario that most people wish to avoid.

The only way to guide the distribution of wealth that will take place after one's death is to create a package of documents that clearly outline which assets are to go to which parties. If a piece of real estate is intended to pass down to a child or grandchild, that intention must be documented in a format that is acceptable by the state. Absent such documentation, the laws of intestacy will apply, and the property could pass down to an individual other than the intended heir.

For those who want to pass a piece of property down to more than one individual, it is possible to divide the interest in a home or vacation property. Those shares do not have to be equal, and the chosen heirs do not have to be related by blood or marriage. However, it is important to designate contingency heirs in the event that the primary heir or heirs die before the inheritance can take place.

Handling real estate within estate planning is not as complicated as many Oklahoma residents  believe. With the right guidance, a plan can be set into place that will transfer wealth to one's chosen heirs. Having these matters taken care of well in advance of being needed can make the probate process far easier to manage.

Source:, "Real Estate and Your Estate Plan: How Does It Work?", Deborah Kearns, Oct. 29, 2015

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