Surviving spouses have many important rights (also known as widow’s rights) under Oklahoma law, including:
- Intestate Share
- Homestead Rights
- Exempt Property
- Elective Share
Learning the basics about these rights is the first step to navigating the probate process.
What are a Surviving Spouse’s Rights in Oklahoma If There Is No Will?
When someone dies without a valid will in Oklahoma, they have died intestate. When someone dies intestate, the laws of Oklahoma govern the disposition of their assets. The surviving spouse’s share of the intestate estate depends on the decedent’s other survivors.
Intestate succession is governed under 84 Okl. St. § 213, as follows:
The share of a surviving spouse is the entire estate if there is no surviving issue (children or their lineal descendants), parent, brother or sister.
The share of a surviving spouse is all the property acquired by the joint industry of the husband and wife during the marriage and one-third of the balance if the decedent is surviving by a parent or sibling, but no surviving issue.
The share of a surviving spouse is one-half of the estate if all the decedent’s surviving issue are also issue of the surviving spouse.
If there are surviving issue, any one of whom are not also issue of the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse’s intestate share is: (1) an undivided one-half (1/2) interest in the marital property, and (2) an undivided equal (child’s) share of the decedent’s property not acquired by joint industry during the marriage.
Surviving Spouse’s Right To Take An Elective Share – Election Against The Will
Under Oklahoma law, a surviving spouse may exercise his or her right to elect one-half of the property acquired during the marriage through joint effort.
A surviving spouse may elect to take one-half of the property if he or she is left less than that in the will. 84 Okl. St. § 44. A surviving spouse who wishes to exercise his or her right of election must do so on or before the final date for hearing of the petition for final distribution of the estate.
The election must be made on or before the final date for hearing of the petition for final distribution of the estate.
Surviving Spouse Allowances And Exemptions
A surviving spouse is also entitled to exemptions and allowances including homestead, family allowance and additional allowance for maintenance during the administration of the decedent’s estate.
- Homestead: The surviving spouse in Oklahoma may continue to possess and occupy the homestead.
- Exempt Property: The surviving spouse is also entitled to exempt property: family pictures; a pew or other house of worship seating; burial ground lots; family bible and books not exceeding $100 in value; decedent’s clothing; provision for one year’s supply (either provided or growing) and fuel; and all household furniture.
- Support Allowance: The surviving spouse is also entitled to a support allowance for one year if the other allowances and exemptions are insufficient. 58 Okl. St. 314.