While it is somewhat difficult for me to believe, back in 2007 I was actually giving people advice on managing your law office if you were a solo or small firm attorney! I know that this happened because I came across the PowerPoint presentation that is below when I was looking for some other files this morning.

If you are interested in the ideas for management organization in a small office there could be some good material in here.


The difference between joint tenants and tenants in common is often perplexing but critically important for understanding property ownership rights particularly when there are Oklahoma probate issues. Let me try to explain how it works under Oklahoma real property law.


The definitions – Joint Tenants – Tenants in Common

Joint Tenancy with a right of survivorship is where two or more individuals own real estate together and each has exactly the same rights in the property as the other owners or co-tenants. Upon the death of a joint tenant, the survivor has legal title and, unless fraud or a trust is established, the survivor will also acquire equitable title.

Tenancy in common is where all the owners have legal right of possession of the real estate but each owner has a separate and distinct title. Subject to the rights of the co-tenant(s), each tenant in common is equally entitled to the use, benefit, and possession of common property. A tenant in common may convey her interest in the real without the other tenants in common joining in the conveyance (unless it is homestead property, in which event her spouse must join). Tenancy in common is the default manner of taking title – if there is no evidence that the real estate was supposed to be conveyed as a joint tenancy, then title is held as a tenancy in common.

The similarities

  • Both Joint Tenancy and Tenancy in Common are ways of holding title to real estate.
  • Someone would use one of these methods when they own real estate with at least one other person.
  • Under both types, you purchase only a portion of the property, cooperating with other owners who purchase the remaining amount.


The differences

Major differences between holding title as a joint tenant and holding title as a tenant in common:

  • Upon the death of one joint tenant, his or her interest automatically passes to the surviving joint tenant, who becomes sole owner. This does not happen with a tenancy in common.
  • A tenant in common can freely sell her interest while a joint tenant can convey her interest in the real during her lifetime, but the joint tenancy interest cannot be devised and will not descend except possibly in the event of the simultaneous death of all the joint tenants.
  • Tenants in common may have different ownership interests. For instance, Tenant A and Tenant B may each own 40 percent of the real estate, while Tenant C owns 20 percent. However, joint tenants obtain equal shares of the property with the same deed, at the same time.



An example of where joint tenancy with right of survivorship is commonly use is for homestead property owned by a married couple. The title will typically be held as “joint tenants with right of survivorship.”

On this blog, I discuss many ways to avoid having to do an Oklahoma probate after someone dies. However, what happens if you can’t avoid it?

One thing that happens is a person is appointed to administer the estate. Different terms are used for this person including the executor, executrix, administrator, special administrator and personal representative. Regardless of what term is used, the person who is appointed to handle the estate has certain duties under Oklahoma law.

Some of these duties are:

1.Taking charge of all property of the estate;
2.Being subject to the orders of the probate court in the control and disbursement of the property of the estate;
3. Determine whether the decedent had any debts and if so compile a list of the debts;
4. Take control of, continue, or terminate any of the decedent’s social networking networking account or short message service website or any e-mail service websites.
5. Be prepared to provide a report to the court of the condition of the affairs of the estate;
6. Maintain financial records for the estate including being able to show all receipts and disbursements and a list of present assets.
7. Provide an accounting to the court of all estate business including:

a. All income has been properly received and expenses lawfully made;
b. All allowed and approved claims have been paid;
c. All funeral expenses, taxes and costs of the administrator have been paid; and
d. The estate is ready for closing.

Who says nothing good ever happens when you are out after midnight?


Regular readers of this blog know that I rarely write about personal matters.  It typically requires a momentous moment in my life or the life of my family.  Today is precisely one of those moments.

Four years ago today a young girl sat in a hospital bed in the wee hours of the morning waiting to give birth to a baby boy. The girl knew that she could not keep the baby because of her circumstances. However, she also did not know what she was going to do with the baby.

While watching the television in the hospital room, she saw an advertisement for Deaconess Pregnancy & Adoption Services. It was the Deaconess commercial that inspired the girl to call Deaconess and set the process in motion of her making a courageous decision to place her baby for adoption.

The result of that decision is that my wife and I ended up becoming parents to one of the sweetest little boys in the world, David, who is four years old today. David joined our family as a a brother to the best big brother a little brother could ever hope to have, Sam.





If you are an employee being asked to sign an Oklahoma non-compete agreement, you should consider the four questions below before you sign:


Untitled 2.002

If I am an Oklahoma business with independent contractors, do I still have to respond to an income assignment for child support?

Read on to find out.

Continue Reading…

I typically write about Oklahoma non-compete agreements in the employer-employee relationship. But what about a situation that many people find themselves in: independent contractor status.

What are the limits on a business restricting an independent contractor from competing?

Are the limits the same as in the employer-employee relationship?

Read on to find out. Continue Reading…

My worry list

February 27, 2014

I rarely share personal information on this blog.  One exception was when we adopted our son David in 2010, an occasion I found grand enough to merit mention on this blog.  Today’s post is another occasion where I am deviating from normal practice of keeping it *legal*!

My list of worries.

I have been a life-long, habitual worrier. Constantly and continually fretting and stewing about things I cannot control, particularly the “what ifs” that are not the tasks of today but the mirages of tomorrow. As you might expect, worry has promoted good health or living for me. I am fed up with living like this. God says that I do not have to live like this.

I started my “worry list” late last night. This is a list where I record any worries I have, when they come to me. The point of recording the worries is getting them out of my head and trying to do what God invites us to do in 1 Peter 5:7, to give all our worries and cares to Him, because God loves and cares about us and does not want us to worry.

My hope is that by getting the worries out of my head in real time I will facilitate the process of turning them over to God, accepting the peace that He offers and, someday, turning this “worry list” into a “faith list”, a list that demonstrates God’s faithfulness.

A life-long habit and practice is not going away in day without a miracle (which, just for the record, I would be totally fine with God!). But this is the start of the process for me. We will see how it goes.


The Technology Piece

For those of you who are technologically-inclined, there is tech piece to this story:  I am using Evernote, primarily on the iPhone, to record my worries.  Whenever a worry comes to my mind, I dictate it into Evernote using vJournal, an iOS app that allows for quick iOS dictation and then automatically transfers the information into Evernote and built-in voice dictation on the iPhone.

Do you know what the Oklahoma summary probate process is?



Summary probate is a shorter, quicker version of a full-blown probate. Rather than there being two hearings in front of the Judge, there is only one hearing, at the end of the process. To give you an idea of what to expect, below is a diagram how the Oklahoma summary probate process usually flows through the court:.


Summary Probate

Does your estate qualify?

To qualify for summary probate (technically referred to as “summary administration”), the estate must meet one of the following criteria:

1. The value of the estate is less than or equal to $200,000.00;
2. The decedent has been deceased for more than five (5) years; or
3. The decedent resided In another jurisdiction at the time of death.

Have you funded your Oklahoma living trust?


You have probably heard that funding your living trust is really important.  I have written about the topic a couple of times on this blog including this post . . . Why do you need to fund your trust or lose it?

But what does “funding” really mean?? Simply put, funding means to legal transfer title to your property from yourself to your living trust.

If you do not fund your trust, you will probably lose most of value of it.  Below is diagram I created that identifies some of basic documents that are used in the trust funding process, with a little bit of explanation about each document.

Snip - docs