By Sarah Stewart Legal Group

Probate is a court process where someone who has a Will, does not have an estate plan at all, or has a trust but missed placing some of their assets into the trust and has property titled in their name only has died and the family has to work with a Judge to transfer that property.

The most common question I get about probate from clients is

What About the Debt?

After a probate is started in Oklahoma, the representative appointed by the Court has to file and publish notice to creditors of the death.  This notice must also be mailed to creditors of which the representative is aware.

Creditors then have a set time in which they have to file a claim on the estate. If they miss their deadlines, the debt is wiped.  This rule does not apply to all creditors- generally, the government, or creditors with secured interests- like mortgage companies who have a lien on the property until the mortgage is paid.

Do Representatives Have to Pay the Debts?

Though the Representative is the person responsible for paying the deceased’s debts, their role is more a role of management.  They are not personally responsible for the debts and do not pay them with their own money.

Instead, they use any money left over in the deceased’s account to pay the debts where claims have been filed, or a secured interest is in place. If the money is not available, the debts cannot be paid.

Anyone can file a probate without an attorney in Oklahoma.  But, the probate process is very precise.

There are deadlines that must be met and very specific procedures that must be followed.  If you represent yourself, you are telling the Court you agree to follow all of those procedures. You are held to the same standard as the attorneys who enter the courtroom every day.

So, please reach out to an attorney to decide if you need to file a probate, and to get help with the process. Make your grieving process a little easier by having someone else handle the complicated court process.