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Oklahoma Joint Tenancy Termination Law


People own property in different ways and this ownership is recorded in different manners throughout Oklahoma. There are many ownership and/or tenancy options available to residents of Oklahoma that have their roots in common law and those that have developed over time, and the system has largely been in place for decades.


However, one question that regularly becomes an issue when a person passes away is how to handle the property that he or she owned. In short, if the decedent owned property in joint tenancy or in a life estate, then that joint tenancy needed to be terminated so that the remaining owner or tenant could claim title to that property.


Over the years, there were in effect two options to effectuate this necessary step – terminating the joint tenancy in front of a judge or pursuing strategies to complete a non-judicial termination of joint tenancy. Each of these processes is explained briefly below so that you can gain an understanding of how this could be handled.


Option One – Judicial Termination of Joint Tenancy


We’d like to first cover the judicial process involved with terminating a joint tenancy so that you can gain an understanding of why it would be advisable to avoid it and to allow yourself the opportunity to pursue a non-judicial termination of joint tenancy under the current laws of Oklahoma. When a judge is needed to terminate a joint tenancy, the legal process becomes necessary. What this means is the following:


1. You must retain an attorney for obvious legal reasons
2. You must file the appropriate paperwork to schedule a hearing in front of a judge
3. You must gather all relevant evidence relating to the joint tenant’s death
4. You must gather all relevant evidence relating to the nature of the joint tenancy
5. You must gather all relevant evidence to prove that the property is not subject to some sort of lien, levy or foreclosure
6. You must organize witnesses if necessary
7. You must prepare for any challenges that any relevant party could make
8. You must await the judge’s decision as to whether or not the joint tenancy will be terminated.


Finally, while all of this is happening, you must wait and not take official ownership or tenancy of the property in question. During this time, many things can happen, and you will not be able to sell the property until the tenancy is terminated, meaning that your financial situation could suffer significantly, as such costs as property taxes will continue to mount. 


Option Two - Non-Judicial Termination of Joint Tenancy


The non-judicial termination of joint tenancy in Oklahoma is a much more advisable option for someone in this situation for many reasons, mostly because it give the would-be owner or tenant the opportunity to realize sole ownership or tenancy without unreasonable delays and legal expenses.


There is a process that needs to be followed to effectuate a non-judicial termination of joint tenancy in Oklahoma, and that starts with the filing of an appropriate affidavit and supporting documents that speak to the ownership or title of the property in question, the death of the joint tenant or owner and the assertion that the title to the property at issue is in fact marketable and not subject to any imminent foreclosures, tax liens or levies or any other attachment that would prevent the title from changing hands in a customary sale.


However, the issues that often arise in conjunction with a non-judicial termination of joint tenancy in Oklahoma often deal with the party or parties who can be seen to have the requisite standing to file such affidavits. Under older laws, those parties who could file these documents was limited to a certain number of parties, and this was sometimes difficult when it came to execution because many of these parties were either not available or not able to attest to the facts asserted in furtherance of the termination.


Since then, the laws have been somewhat simplified to allow additional parties to file the appropriate documentation, but those parties and who could and should be involved can still come down to the facts that underlie such a situation. Basically, a person needs to be sure that he or she is pursuing a non-judicial termination of joint tenancy in Oklahoma in the appropriate manner, or the transfer will not be valid.


Why Hire an Estate Attorney?


As you see, pursuing a non-judicial termination of joint tenancy in Oklahoma is extremely advisable when possible. It’s a relatively simple process, but only after the appropriate parties and documents have been identified and completed properly. In order to make sure this is how things proceed for you, contact Privett Law immediately to schedule an initial consultation.


If you are facing this issue and would like to pursue a non-judicial termination of joint tenancy in Oklahoma, you need to contact Privett Law immediately to schedule an initial consultation and to gain an understanding of how this is done, as there are steps that need to be taken to avoid problems.