Supreme Court of Oklahoma Modifies Distribution of Specific Bequest

Elder Law Answers case summary.The Supreme Court of Oklahoma balances the interests of unintentionally disinherited daughters with a specific bequest from a holographic will. In re Estate of Ronald W. Parker (Okla. No. 119871, May 2, 2023).

Before his death, Mr. Ronald W. Parker created a holographic will. The will left his workers compensation settlement to his brother, Mr. Herman Parker. It did not mention his two daughters, Mrs. Mandy Allford and Mrs. Shila Pirpich.

The value of the settlement was $850,000. In comparison, the residual estate was worth only $14,294. The daughters and the brother argued over the distribution of the estate.

Two Oklahoma statutes apply. Under 84 O.S.2011, § 132, unintentionally omitted children receive intestate shares of an estate. In this case, nothing suggests that the father wanted to disinherit his daughters. So § 132 entitles the daughters to what they would have received under intestacy laws.

Section 133 modifies § 132. It explains how to distribute the estate when there are pretermitted heirs and specific bequests.

The lower court was wrong to disregard § 133, reasoning that the section did not apply to the case because Mr. Herman Parker was not the decedent’s lineal descendant. Yet Section 133 applies when there is an unintentionally disinherited child, regardless of who else benefits under the will.

As pretermitted heirs, the daughters would receive half of the estate under § 132. Yet § 133 also applies, modifying the result, as it makes exceptions for specific bequests. This includes the specific bequest of the workers compensation amount. However, Mr. Herman Parker should only get part of the settlement amount because the residual estate is so small.

The Supreme Court of Oklahoma remands the case. The trial court must balance providing shares to the daughters with partially honoring the testator’s intent to give his brother a specific bequest.

The dissent states that the brother should receive the entire workers compensation amount under§ 133. According to the dissenting justice, the majority’s opinion ignores the testator’s intent to give his brother the full amount. Under § 133, the brother should get the entire award because it is not part of the estate or because he made a specific bequest.

Read the full opinion.