Well that’s a term, or terminology where the court gets involved and oversees the collection of assets, orders payment of creditors and then orders the distribution. “Probating an estate” is just another way of saying the court is handling, or overseeing, the process of handling the affairs of someone who died.
If there’s an asset that was owned only by the person who passed away, then there is no legal method to transfer ownership of that asset to someone else. In other words, if I own a piece of real estate, and if I’m the only one on the deed, and if I pass away, there’s no one that can sign the deed to transfer ownership to someone else. In that situation, the probate would be required so the judge can authorize the transfer of that property to the rightful party.
All estates do not have to be probated. If you have a trust, then one of the goals is to avoid probate. But, even if you don’t have a trust, many times we can avoid probate. It all depends upon the assets that you own at the time you pass away, and if there are co-owners or any beneficiaries on those assets.
Generally speaking, if you have a will, it’s going to be less expensive. But there are many, many exceptions. The benefit of having a will would be that you could deal with certain issues, or head them off, before they go to court. Without the will, there’s additional opportunity for other people to show up at court and contest certain matters.
Here in Oklahoma, it’s really easy. If the person passed away while they were here in Oklahoma, then those records are obtained through the Department of Vital Statistics. Their main office is in Oklahoma City, but they have a local office in Tulsa. For a fairly nominal fee, you can go in to their office and come out in fifteen minutes with Death Certificate in hand.
If your deceased parent is the only one that was on the deed, then, there’s going to have to be a probate. That’s the legal process of transferring the property out of your parent’s name to whoever is the appropriate party. If the asset that we’re speaking of is an automobile, then we can probably handle transferring that without going through the court.