By Sarah Buchan.
Any competent adult who has a “Last Will and Testament” may leave their property in whatever manner they wish. A spouse can choose to take his share of the property regardless of what the Will leaves him. In other words, you can’t cut out your spouse if he or she doesn’t want to be cut out. The rules concerning
Wills are complicated. It’s not something you should cut corners on, and it isn’t something most people should do for themselves.
If you don’t have a Will, the State of Oklahoma has written one for you, designating who gets your property when you die. It’s called “intestate succession.” It is found in the Oklahoma Statutes, 84 Okla.Stat. § 213(B):
1. If the decedent leaves a surviving spouse, the share of the estate passing to said spouse is:
a. if there is no surviving issue, parent, brother or sister, the entire estate, or
b. if there is no surviving issue but the decedent is survived by a parent or parents, brother or sister:
(1) all the property acquired by the joint industry of the husband and wife during coverture, and
(2) an undivided one-third ( 1/3 ) interest in the remaining estate, or
c. if there are surviving issue, all of whom are also issue of the surviving spouse: an undivided one-half ( 1/2 ) interest in all the property of the estate whether acquired by the joint industry of the husband and wife during coverture or otherwise, or
d. if there are surviving issue, one or more of whom are not also issue of the surviving
spouse: (1) an undivided one-half ( 1/2 ) interest in the property acquired by the joint industry of the husband and wife during coverture, and
(2) an undivided equal part in the property of the decedent not acquired by the joint industry of the husband and wife during coverture with each of the living children of the decedent and the lawful issue
of any deceased child by right of representation;
2. The share of the estate not passing to the surviving spouse or if there is no surviving spouse, the estate is to be distributed as follows:
a. in undivided equal shares to the surviving children of the decedent and issue of any deceased child
of the decedent by right of representation, or
b. if there is no surviving issue, to the surviving parent or parents of the decedent in undivided equal shares, or
c. if there is no surviving issue nor parent, in undivided equal shares to the issue of
parents by right of representation, or
d. if there is no surviving issue, parent, nor issue of parents, but the decedent is survived by one or more grandparents or issue of any grandparent, half of the estate passes equally to the paternal grandparents if both survive, or to the surviving paternal grandparent, or to the issue of any paternal grandparent if both paternal grandparents are deceased, the issue taking equally if they are all of the same degree of kinship to the decedent, but if of unequal degree those of more remote degree take by representation and the other half passes to the maternal relatives in the same manner; but if the decedent is survived by one or more grandparents or issue of grandparents on only one side of the
family, paternal or maternal, the entire estate shall pass to such survivors in the manner set forth in this subsection, or
e. if there is no surviving issue, parent, issue of parents, grandparent, nor issue of a grandparent, the estate passes to the next of kin in equal degree;
3. If the decedent leaves no spouse, issue, parent, issue of parents, grandparent, issue of a grandparent, nor kindred, then the estate shall escheat to the state for the support of the common schools; and
4. For the purpose of this section, the phrase “by right of representation” means the estate is to be divided into as many equal shares as there are surviving heirs in the nearest degree of kinship and deceased persons in the same degree who left issue who survive the decedent, each surviving heir in the nearest degree receiving one equal share and the equal share of each deceased person in the same degree being divided among his issue in the same manner. The word “issue” means lineal descendants.
Your best option is to have a Last Will and Testament, rather than leave it to the State to determine where your property should go. A Will can accomplish other tasks, such as appointing someone to handle your estate after you die, and you can also make specific bequests of property to persons you want to receive it. If you don’t have a Will, you should have one prepared and properly executed. Then give a copy of it to the person you want to administer your estate.
Remember: this is a general statement of the law and it may or may not be applicable to your specific situation.