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Let's Talk About Wills

You know the scene well. Grieving (or perhaps greedy) heirs gather in a lawyer’s office to hear the reading of the will. The lawyer will then magically make each item in the will appear out of his desk and hand it to the stated recipient. Finally, the lawyer will pass out checks to some or all of the heirs and everybody leaves, whether happy or mad. But is this really what happens? The short answer is no.

Let’s start with the basics, what is a will? A will is a document within which an individual directs how and among whom they want their estate to be distributed upon their death. Most commonly, a will leaves an individual’s entire estate to the surviving spouse or children. However, a will allows an individual to leave some property to, say, a charity or best friend.

So, now that we have a basic understanding of what a will is, what actually happens when we die with a will? Dying with a will does not mean that your heirs will make a trip to your lawyer’s office after your burial and receive the property you left for them. A will has to go through probate, where the court will review the will to determine that it is valid under Oklahoma law and oversee the distribution of property as directed in the will. The probate process can take several months before the property is distributed to those identified in the will.

Well, if we need to go through probate with a will and probate without a will, what’s the point in having a will? While it is true that having a will does not avoid the probate process, it provides you the tool to make sure that your estate is distributed the way you want instead of the way the Oklahoma legislature says it will.

If you have questions about making a will or are looking for an estate plan that will avoid the time and expense of probate, contact Carpenter Law Office. With our 40+ years of experience, we have helped hundreds of individuals and families protect their legacies and provide for their loved ones. Call us at 918-298-1001 or set up your free consultation today.