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