TN 13 (09-14)
GN 02315.074 Oklahoma Small Estates
A. Background on the Oklahoma small estates statues
The Oklahoma Code contains provisions found at Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 58, §§ 241-247 that allow courts to dispense with the regular probate proceedings when dealing with small estates, but that still require the court to appoint a legal representative. The Oklahoma Code also contains provisions at Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 30, § 4-805 and Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 58, §§ 393-394, that dispense with the requirement that a small estate have a court-appointed legal representative.
B. Oklahoma summary administration procedure
1. Estates of $150,000 or less
Title 58, section 241, provides that after filing a petition for probate and after a personal representative’s appointment in cases where the value of the decedent’s entire estate does not exceed one hundred fifty thousand dollars ($150,000), upon the personal representative’s application, the probate court will follow an abbreviated administration procedure. The court must order notice to creditors and a hearing upon the final accounting and petition for determination of heirship, distribution, and discharge. After the hearing, the court must, after proof of payment of certain expenses and allowed claims, issue an order allowing the final accounting, determining the decedent’s heirship and the legatees and devisees, and distributing the estate property. Thus, court documentation is still needed for purposes of SSA’s good acquittance regarding an underpayment. For more information, see GN 02315.074D.2. in this section.
2. Estates of $175,000 or less (effective November 1, 2013, the amount changes to $200,000)
Title 58, sections 245-247, provide for summary administration of an estate, upon any interested person’s petition, when the value of the estate does not exceed one hundred seventy-five thousand dollars ($175,000), the decedent has been deceased for more than 5 years, or the decedent resided in another jurisdiction at the time of death. The petition for summary administration must meet all of the requirements set forth in Title 58, section 245.
Upon the filing of the petition, the court must dispense with the regular estate proceedings and must order notice to creditors and issue an order for hearing upon the petition for admission of the will, if any, to probate, the petition for summary administration, the final accounting, and the petition determination of heirship, distribution, and discharge.
After the hearing, if the court determines that summary proceedings are appropriate, the court may, after proof of payment of certain expenses and allowed claims, issue an order approving the petition for summary administration, finding that the will has been approved by law, admitting the will attached to the petition to probate, allowing the final accounting, determining the decedent’s heirship and the legatees and devisees, and distributing the estate property.
The court’s order shall have the same force and effect as a final decree or order rendered in any other proceeding provided by Oklahoma law for distribution of the decedent’s estate. A certified copy of the order or notice of the order shall be filed and recorded in the records of the county clerk in any county where the decedent’s real property is located. Thus, we still need court documentation for purposes of SSA’s “good acquittance” regarding an underpayment. For more information, see GN 02315.074D.2. in this section.
C. Oklahoma procedure for distribution of personal property to legal guardian
Title 30, section 4-805, provides that where a beneficiary who was an adult ward dies intestate leaving only personal property and his total estate does not exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000), his legal guardian may be treated as if he had been appointed personal representative of such estate, for purposes of receiving any underpayment due.
D. Oklahoma procedure for payment per successor affidavit
Title 58, section 393, provides for payment of property to a successor by affidavit. At any time ten (10) days or more after the decedent’s death, any person indebted to the decedent must make payment of the indebtedness to a person claiming to be a successor of the decedent upon being presented with an affidavit made by or on behalf of the successor.
1. Affidavit content requirements
The affidavit must state that:
The fair market value of the decedent’s property located in Oklahoma, less liens and encumbrances, does not exceed twenty thousand dollars ($20,000);
No application or petition for the appointment of a personal representative is pending or has been granted in any jurisdiction;
Each claiming successor is entitled to the payment or property; and
All taxes and debts of the estate have been paid or are barred by limitations.
2. Policy of good acquittance and effect of successor affidavit under Oklahoma law
An “underpayment” is the difference in the beneficiary’s favor between the amount SSA paid to a beneficiary and the amount SSA actually owed the beneficiary. For more information, see 20 C.F.R. § 404.504. An individual provides “good acquittance” to SSA when SSA’s payment of an underpayment to that individual relieves SSA from any further liability for payment. This means that the individual has attested that there is no one of higher priority who could claim an underpayment and SSA has determined this to be true. For more information, see 20 C.F.R. § 404.503(e)) and GN 02301.030C.
Under Oklahoma law, the effect of the successor affidavit is that the person paying or delivering the property to a successor named in the affidavit is discharged and released to the same extent as if the person dealt with a personal representative of the decedent. The person making payment is not required to inquire into the truth of any statement in the affidavit. If a person is presented with a successor affidavit and refuses to pay, that person may be compelled by a judicial proceeding. Any person to whom payment or delivery of property is made is answerable and accountable to any personal representative of the estate or to any other person having a superior right.
References: Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 30, § 4-805; tit. 58, §§ 241, 245-47, 393-94 (West 2013).
On April 24, 2013, the Oklahoma legislature approved an amendment to 58 Okl. Stat. § 245, increasing the maximum estate amount from $175,000 to $200,000, effective November 1, 2013. See Okla. Sess. Law Serv. Ch. 144 (H.B. 1547) (WEST).