Creating a last will and testament is one of the most important steps you can take as an adult in Oklahoma. Your will specifies your wishes for distributing your property and caring for your loved ones. This FAQ answers some of the most common questions about Oklahoma wills.
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What If I Die Without a Will in Oklahoma?
When someone dies intestate, state law determines who inherits their assets. Under intestacy laws, if there is a surviving spouse or child, they inherit. If not, then next of kin such as parents, grandparents, and siblings inherit. If the state can’t locate the next of kin, the estate goes to the state. A will fulfills several important roles and does the following:
- Names a personal representative or executor who locates your will and assets, submits your will to the probate court, and ensures that your wishes are carried out.
- Identifies and gives away personal property and real estate to those you select in your will
- Names beneficiaries who inherit your property
- Makes charitable bequests to charities of your choice if you so choose
- Names guardians for minor children to ensure they are cared for
- Names caregivers for pets and sets asides funds for their care if you wish
What Doesn’t a Will Do?
Many assets transfer through a will. However, there are some types of assets, called non-probate assets, that cannot transfer via a will. Instead, they pass through beneficiary designations or co-owners. Some of these non-probate assets are:
- Property owned as joint tenants with right of survivorship
- Property in trusts, including living trusts and irrevocable trusts
- Funds in payable on death or transfer on death bank accounts
- Life insurance payments (to beneficiaries other than to the estate itself)
As part of your estate planning, you should confirm your beneficiaries are correct and name backup beneficiaries if your primary beneficiary dies before you.
Who Can Make a Will in Oklahoma?
Oklahoma law sets out requirements for testators, or people making a will. These include:
- Age: The testator is age 18 years of age or older.
- Sound Mind: The testator is of sound mind which means they understand the decisions in their will and have reasonable knowledge of the property they own, what it’s worth, and to whom you are leaving it. If a person is under a guardianship or conservatorship they can make a will, but they must sign and acknowledge the will before a district court judge.
A testator must have a sound mind at the time they make and sign their will. Oklahoma residents with concerns about if they can make a will should consult an estate planning attorney for legal advice.
Does Oklahoma Have a Statutory Will?
No. Oklahoma does not have a statutory will, a specific form that you must use to create your will. Instead, you can create your own will customized to your needs or hire an estate planning attorney in Oklahoma City or other areas for legal advice. Many people seeking self-help solutions choose FindLaw Legal Forms and Services to draft their will.
What Types of Wills Does Oklahoma Accept?
Most wills are printed or typed and signed by the testator. It is important to understand other types of wills as well.
- Handwritten Will: A holographic will is one that is entirely written in the testator’s own handwriting (no part of it can be typed or printed) and dated and signed by the testator without witnesses. This will is valid whether it was created in Oklahoma or in another state.
- Oral Will: An oral will, also called a nuncupative will, is spoken aloud. An oral will is only valid if the testator was in actual military service in the field or on duty on a ship at sea and was in fear or peril of death or expecting immediate death from an injury they received the same day. To be valid, such a will cannot bequeath more than $1000. There must be two witnesses present at the time it was spoken, and one of them must have been asked by the testator at the time to bear witness that this was their will.
- Electronic Will: An electronic will is a will signed, witnessed, or notarized through electronic methods. At this time, electronic wills are not valid in Oklahoma.
These alternative types of wills are much easier to challenge in court, therefore it is always best to create a standard typed will when possible.
Can I Make My Own Will in Oklahoma?
You can make your own will in Oklahoma if you know your own wishes and there is no requirement that you use an attorney. Using FindLaw Legal Forms and Services is an easy way to create a will on your own.
How Do I Make My Will Valid in Oklahoma?
To ensure your will is valid, be aware of the following requirements.
- Signature: The testator must sign the will or direct someone to sign for them in their presence.
- Witnesses: Two witnesses must see the testator sign the will or have the testator acknowledge their signature to the witnesses. The testator must tell the witnesses that this is their will. The witnesses must sign their names at the end of the will at the testator’s request and in the presence of the testator. A witness is considered an interested witness if they are a beneficiary under a will. These bequests are void unless there are two other disinterested witnesses.
- Notary: You do not need your will notarized in Oklahoma.
- Self-Proving Affidavit: Oklahoma statutes provide a self-proving affidavit that can be attached to a will. The testator and the witnesses sign the affidavit before a notary, swearing under oath that they signed the will. This affidavit can then be used in court in place of witness testimony to enter the will into probate.
Can I Disinherit My Spouse in Oklahoma?
You do not have to provide for your spouse in your will. However, if you don’t, your spouse can claim an elective share of your estate, provided they did not waive their right in a premarital agreement. An elective share is a portion of a decedent’s estate that a spouse may claim if left out of the will.
Can I Disinherit My Children in Oklahoma?
You can disinherit children however you must specifically state that you are doing so. Oklahoma law states that if you leave a child out of your will, they are entitled to the amount they would receive if you died intestate. So to disinherit a child, you should make it clear in the will that you are doing it intentionally.
What Estate Planning Documents Should I Have in Oklahoma?
In addition to your last will and testament, you should have other important estate planning documents, including:
- Power of Attorney. This document lets you gives authority to someone you trust to manage your financial affairs if you are unable to do so yourself. Your agent has a fiduciary duty to act in your best interests.
- Health Care Directive. Oklahoma law allows you to complete a health care power of attorney, also called a health care directive or living will, naming an agent who can access your medical records and make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself. You can also create an advance directive for health care that specifies what types of end-of life care you do and do not consent to.
Fortunately, making a valid will and creating other Oklahoma estate planning documents is easy with online estate planning templates.