This article explains the purpose, cost, timeline, and process of an ancillary probate in Oklahoma. The purpose is transferring title to out-of-state property. The cost is generally $2,500 to $5,000. The timeline is 6-8 weeks. The process is drafting, filing, publishing, and recording the final judgment.
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What is the purpose of an ancillary probate?
When a person dies in one state but owns real property or minerals in another state, an ancillary probate is often necessary to transfer the property to heirs. For example, if someone died in Colorado but owned real estate or minerals in Oklahoma, an ancillary probate may be necessary.
This situation is common in Oklahoma, because out-of-state residents often own valuable minerals rights in Oklahoma. See: 58 Okla. Stat. Section 58-677.
What is the cost of an ancillary probate?
According to my research, the price of an ancillary probate in Oklahoma ranges from $2,500 to $5,000. In addition to attorney fees, the client may also pay few hundred dollars for publishing notice or serving process. These numbers are based on estimates from a handful of law firms in Oklahoma.
Why such a wide range of cost? Sometimes, ancillary probates involve confusing title issues and extensive research. Other times, the process is quick and straightforward. Most of the time, I would estimate fees and costs of $3,000.00 for an average ancillary probate.
How long does an ancillary probate take?
The typical timeline for an Oklahoma ancillary probate is 6-10 weeks on average. Of course, there are exceptions when unique issues arise, but 6-10 weeks is a good starting point. The length of time can vary widely depending on how quickly information can be obtained from the client, from the home state, or from a landman (if title work is necessary).
What is the process of an ancillary probate?
To simplify, here are the primary steps required in an ancillary probate:
- Obtain certified copies of the Will, Order Approving the Will, and Final Decree from the decedent’s state of residence. These documents often go by different names, so your attorney may need to help you identify them. If the decedent died without a Will, there are ways to handle that situation within an ancillary probate as well.
- Draft the initial pleadings, including (in most cases) a Petition, Affidavit of Domiciliary Personal Representative, Notice of Hearing, and proposed Final Decree.
- File the initial pleadings and obtain a hearing date, which is typically set at least 30 days in the future.
- Promptly satisfy all publication, notice, and mailing requirements in time to satisfy statutory deadlines prior to the hearing date.
- At the time of the hearing, obtain a signed Final Decree transferring title to the Oklahoma property.
- Record the Final Decree in all counties where the subject property is located.
What if there is property in multiple counties?
If there is property in more than one Oklahoma county, do you have to file an ancillary probate in each of the counties? No, you can file and complete the ancillary probate in only one county. Then, you will record the Final Decree in all of the counties where real property or minerals are located. Furthermore, you will publish the Notice of Hearing in all counties where property is located (even though the action is only filed in one county).
Alternatives to Ancillary Probate
There are three main forms of probate in Oklahoma: (1) regular probate, which is the standard process for an Oklahoma decedent; (2) ancillary probate, which is discussed above; and (3) summary probate, or summary administration, which is an abbreviated form of probate for Oklahoma decedents. In addition to various forms of probate, title problems can sometimes be fixed with an Affidavit of Heirship, a Small Estate Affidavit, a Quitclaim Deed, or a Quiet Title Action. Due to the many tools available, you may wish to consult an attorney who regularly deals with property law to identify the most cost-efficient tool for your goals.
Our firm is based in the OKC metro area, but we serve all Oklahoma counties. As a property law firm, we focus on delivering efficient, cost-effective solutions for title problems.