Can an Inmate Inherit Property in Oklahoma?

by Timothy Mucciante Google

An Oklahoma inmate may inherit property, but state Department of Corrections rules and policies may interfere with the management or use of whatever the inmate receives. DOC rules may prohibit an inmate from conducting any business dealings involving the inheritance. Also, if the inmate receives inherited cash into his prison account, the DOC may take some of that money to pay for various fees, costs, back taxes and restitution.

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Ban on Conducting Business

The DOC prohibits inmates from conducting business while incarcerated. If the inmate receives investments, mutual funds, stocks or real property instead of a cash inheritance, he will not be allowed to manage these investments from inside prison. He will need to appoint a third party, outside of prison, to manage these affairs on his behalf. Conducting business may include phone calls, letters or visits related to managing the inherited property.

Offender Financial Responsibility Program

The state DOC operates an Offender Financial Responsibility Program. When an inmate enters the Oklahoma prison system, DOC staff assists him in developing a financial plan to meeting his financial obligations -- such as child support and past taxes -- while incarcerated. Periodic reviews are conducted to monitor money going into the inmate's prison account and to make any changes to his financial plan. Twenty percent of any funds received in the inmate's prison account, including any inherited cash, may be be used to pay his financial obligations.

Obligations Required to Be Paid by the Inmate

Obligations included in the inmate financial plan are victim restitution, court costs, student loans, payment of judgments in favor of the state or federal government and any other debt owed to the federal, state or local government. Also, any per-day incarceration costs incurred while in county custody waiting for case disposition are the inmate's responsibility. Of the 77 Oklahoma counties, 14 charge inmates for so-called "Pay-to-Stay." These charges range from $14 a day in Seminole County to $43 a day in Woods County.

Federal Inmate Financial Responsibility Program

There are two federal prisons in Oklahoma. Like state DOC inmates, federal inmates may receive an inheritance but may not conduct any business dealings while incarcerated. Federal inmates may be required to pay restitution to their victims, fines and special assessments as part of the Federal Bureau of Prisons Financial Responsibility Program. Any part of a cash inheritance deposited into an inmate’s account may be deducted on a monthly or quarterly basis to pay these obligations.