Oklahoma Estate Planning Myths: If I die without a will, all my assets go to the government.

From the series Oklahoma Planning Myths . . .

MYTH: If I die without a will, the government will take all of my assets.

FACT: If you die without a will or trust, it is called “intestate”, meaning the state will determine how to dispose of your assets. In Oklahoma, the state provides the surviving spouse and/or children with all the assets depending on the circumstance (see What a surviving spouse gets under Oklahoma law). Certain assets pass by “operation of law”, meaning that they are not distributed according to a decedent’s will or trust, or under the intestacy rules. For example, joint tenancy bank accounts pass to the surviving joint tenant. Other assets that pass by operation of law are retirement accounts and life insurance proceeds which pass to the named beneficiaries. However, it is prudent to draft a will so there are no misunderstanding with the court and more importantly your heirs.

For other information on estate planning, including a podcast called “Estate Planning Demystified” check out my Oklahoma Estate Planning page.

This material was adapted from the firm Tellie Coleman, attorneys at law. Tellie & Coleman has an excellent website with some great resource material.

Posted by Shawn Roberts

On this blog, I write about and try to answer practical Oklahoma legal questions. My focus and most experience is in estate planning and business issues including Oklahoma non-compete law. I make a living as an attorney in the law firm I founded, Shawn J. Roberts, P.C. in Oklahoma City. I live in Edmond with my wife Amy and my two children, Sam (19) and David (11). We live precisely in the path of where the "wind comes sweeping down the plains."