Oklahoma’s laws regarding wills are extensive and, in some ways, more innovative than those in other states. There are the usual protective provisions for spouses, but Oklahoma also considers pets and offers you a safe place to keep your will until you pass away. Its legislation covers many eventualities.
Oklahoma allows printed, oral and handwritten wills. A handwritten or holographic will must be completely in your own handwriting and signed by you. An oral, or nuncupative, will can only transfer property valued at less than $1,000, must be heard by two witnesses and must be spoken by a member of the military on active duty when faced with imminent death. An adult whose mental capacity to make a will might be in question is afforded special consideration in Oklahoma. If the testator, the person making the will, is under the guardianship of another adult, he must sign his will in the presence of a district court judge who can attest to its execution.
All wills except holographic wills require two witnesses in Oklahoma. A witness may also be a beneficiary but it will affect his bequest if a third witness does not also sign the will. If a third witness is not present and the beneficiary is related to the testator and would otherwise have inherited from her if she had died without a will, then he is entitled to receive whatever that inheritance would have been in lieu of the will's bequest.
Oklahoma has “elective share” statutes which allow a surviving spouse to take half the testator’s estate if what he leaves her in his will is less than that, or if he leaves her nothing at all. The surviving spouse can elect to take this portion at any time up until the final probate hearing when the distribution of assets to other beneficiaries is approved. If you divorce after making your will and you left your spouse anything in the will, the law treats it as though she predeceased you.
You can disinherit your children in Oklahoma, but the Oklahoma Bar Association recommends that you do so by specifically stating this in your will. Your children -- and possibly even grandchildren -- can inherit from you even if it is not your intention if you simply omit mention of them in your will.
As of August 2010, it is legal in Oklahoma to set up a trust in your will for the care of a pet after you pass away. Oklahoma is one of 44 states to make some provision in their legislature for pets.
Safekeeping Your Will
You may place your own will with the court for safekeeping in Oklahoma. Every district court judge is obligated to take it from you and seal it in a wrapper with your name, address and the date, then give you a receipt. The will can only be retrieved by you, by someone with written, witnessed and notarized authorization from you, or the executor named in your will after your death. If you do not name an executor, the judge can open your will.
Beverly Bird is a practicing paralegal who has been writing professionally on legal subjects for over 30 years. She specializes in family law and estate law and has mediated family custody issues.