In a summary administration, you still have to go to probate court, but the process is simpler, faster, and more streamlined than an ordinary probate case. You may file for summary administration if:
The estate is worth $200,000 or less, or
The decedent has been deceased for over five years, or
The decedent lived outside of Oklahoma at the time of his death.
Last week’s post was about “small estates.” I explained how, if an estate is worth less than $50,000, there are simple ways that a successor may collect and transfer property of the estate, without going through probate court. In this post, I’ll discuss the related topic of “summary administration.”
Here’s how a summary administration works:
1. If you want to be the personal representative of an estate, file a petition in court, asking to be appointed personal representative.
2. If the court is satisfied with your petition, the court may appoint you personal representative, without a hearing.
3. After the court appoints you personal representative, the court must then set a date for a final hearing. The final hearing must be set at least 45 days after the court appoints you personal representative.
4. Within ten days after the judge appoints you personal representative, you must mail a notice of the date of the final hearing, to all creditors of the decedent, and to all heirs and interested parties of the estate. Also within ten days after the judge appoints you personal representative, you must also publish this notice in a newspaper in the county in which the probate is filed. You must publish the notice once each week for two consecutive weeks.
5. This notice must state:
a. The name, address, and date of death of the decedent;
b. Your name and address;
c. Whether there is a will;
d. The name and address of all heirs or devisees;
e. The value of the estate;
f. The time and place of the final hearing;
g. That any person receiving notice may file an objection any time before the hearing, and if a person does not file an objection, that person will have deemed to have waived his right to object;
h. That any creditor must present a claim within thirty days after the judge appointed you personal representative, and that if a creditor does not present a claim during this time, the claim will be barred.
6. Then, go to the final hearing. The court will hear objections, if any. If the court is satisfied that you have properly performed your duties as personal representative, the court will enter an order distributing all the property of the estate, and releasing you from your duties as personal representative. The case will then be over.
There’s an even quicker form of summary administration, which may be used if the estate is worth less than $150,000. The procedure for this is as follows:
1. File a petition in court. The court should then set an initial hearing (this is not the final hearing.)
2. At the initial hearing, ask the court to appoint you personal representative.
3. Within two months after you are appointed personal representative, file an inventory of all the property of the estate.
4. If the inventory shows that the estate is worth less than $150,000, you may ask for a summary administration. If the court allows a summary administration, ask the court to set a date for the final hearing.
5. At least 35 days before the final hearing, publish a notice to creditors, and a notice of the time and place of final hearing, in the newspaper in the county in which you filed the probate.
6. The notice to creditors must state that each creditor has thirty days to make a claim against the estate; otherwise, the claim is barred.
7. Mail the notice of final hearing, to all heirs, and all persons interested in the estate, at least ten days before final hearing.
8. At least five days before the final hearing, file a final accounting in court.
9. Then, go to the final hearing. The judge will hear any objections. If the judge is satisfied that you have fulfilled your duties as personal representative, the judge will sign an order distributing all of the property to the heirs. The case will then be over.
If you have a relative who has passed away, and you need to probate their estate, don’t panic. The process of probate may not be as complicated as you fear. If you think you might be able to file a petition for summary administration, consult a qualified attorney today.