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What Does it Mean to Probate a Will?

The word “probate” means an individual who proves or validates something. In the case of probating a will, a court of law will prove that a will is authentic and provides a true representation of a deceased individual’s intention. Even if a last will and testament represents a person’s interests, the state of Oklahoma requires it to meet several standards including proceeding through the probate process. The case will be initiated in the county where the deceased individual lived. The Reason Why Wills Must be Probated Wills must be probated to prevent fraudulent activity as well as to protect individuals who stand to gain assets through the will. Courts are concerned in some cases that a will might be a forgery, fraudulent, or written because someone unfairly exerted control over another. Additionally, in some cases courts might be uncertain whether a version of a will is the most recent form written by an individual. In some cases during the probate process, a court might decide that some provisions of the will are invalid. The Elements of the Probate Process During probate, courts appoint an administrator who makes decisions about issues that might arise regarding the administration of a person’s estate.     Read More

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What is the Process to Probate a Will?

There are some distinct advantages to creating a trust or will in the state of Oklahoma. These estate planning tools let individuals decide who receives the assets of a deceased individual. If a person does not have a will, courts in the state of Oklahoma will divide property in accordance with established law. During this process, courts will assess the value of the deceased person’s assets. The probate process can prove to be time consuming and complicated, which can make the assistance of a skilled estate planning attorney particularly valuable. This article will outline the major steps that comprise the probate process in Oklahoma. The Filing of a Petition This marks the first step in the probate process. If a person has written a will, this document will be filed in addition to the petition which requests that the will be recognized as a controlling legal document. Not only must the deceased individual’s will meet certain requirements to be considered a lawful document, but the will must have also been the most recent such document prepared by the individual. Notice to Your Heirs at Law Prior to a hearing about how a person’s estate should be divided, notice must be     Read More

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Techniques for Avoiding Probate

When individuals die without having an adequate estate plan in place, their estates will proceed through the probate process. Probate has the disadvantage of sometimes lasting for a long period of time. Fortunately, there are some methods that individuals can use to avoid the probate process. A skilled attorney will be able to help an individual determine the various methods necessary to avoid the probate process. Designate Beneficiaries in Retirement Accounts There are some assets that a person has that will pass on after his or her death in accordance with terms other than those found in a will. Many other estate planning devices allow individuals to name beneficiaries, including retirement accounts. Despite the power of these documents, many individuals do not list beneficiaries for bank accounts or retirement plans. By making sure to designate beneficiaries for retirement accounts, individuals can make sure that these assets avoid the probate process. The biggest obstacle presented by this method is making sure that the proper beneficiaries are listed because these roles may sometimes change due to death, divorce, or other major life events. Gifting Avoids the Probate Process By giving away property prior to death, a person can avoid the probate process.     Read More

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Benefits of Estate Planning

A large number of individuals think that only the very rich need to focus on estate planning. This is just one of several popular misconceptions about estate planning. In reality, all types of individuals can benefit from making a plan for their assets after their passing. To make sure that your assets are properly distributed after your death, it often proves essential to obtain the assistance of skilled legal representation. It is also beneficial for individuals to understand the numerous benefits that can be created by estate planning. The Particular Benefits of Estate Planning There are some particular benefits of estate planning, which include the following: Avoid Probate: The probate process can result in a person’s estate being delayed as well as additional fees being incurred. Through the use of proper estate planning, however, individuals can entirely avoid this process. Blended Families: In situations in which a person is part of a blended family, estate plans can make sure that all children are treated in the same manner. Without a plan, there is the potential that children might be treated differently based on the child’s recognized guardians or parents. Funeral Plans: Details about a person’s funeral plans can be articulated     Read More

The Difference Between Debt Consolidation and Bankruptcy

While many people are familiar with the bankruptcy process, debt consolidation is also a unique process. Debt consolidation involves combining debts into one, more manageable debt. Not only does debt consolidation simplify the repayment process for individuals, it also reduces monthly payment and interest rates. Many individuals confuse debt consolidation with debt settlement, which involves a person paying an amount lower than the total amount that is owed. Bankruptcy, however, follows a distinct process from debt consolidation. In Chapter 7 bankruptcy a person sells property to creditors to pay off debts, while in Chapter 13 bankruptcy a repayment or reorganization will be arranged with creditors. Deciding on bankruptcy or debt consolidation depends on a person’s financial goals. Advantages to Filing for Bankruptcy One of the largest advantages of filing bankruptcy is that it offers greater protection against creditors because an “automatic stay” is placed that prevents creditors from obtaining money. An automatic stay also prevents foreclosure, repossession, and shutting off utilities due to nonpayment. Bankruptcy also offers the advantage of clearing a person’s debts, which means that the process lifts financial difficulties from a person. After eliminating these debts, a person can then begin to rebuild their credit and move     Read More

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SCOTUS Ready to Settle Bankruptcy Issue

The Supreme Court recently granted certiorari to review a case that will require the Court to decide the question of whether bankruptcy courts should apply federal or state law when deciding how to recharacterize a debt claim as a capital contribution. The manner in which this case is decided will have a significant influence on how bankruptcy cases proceed. The Role of Recharacterization Recharacterization presents an important role to lenders and investors in companies facing financial difficulties. Current bankruptcy law allows secured creditors to receive top priority while equity interests have a lower priority and are frequently wiped out during bankruptcy. Applicable federal law currently results in the recharacterization of debt to equity, while state law does not always result in this type of recharacterization. The Circuit Split on Recharacterization of Debt Many circuits follow the federal rule in recharacterization of debts and apply a variety of multi-factor tests when determining whether to recharacterize debt as equity. The Third, Fourth, Sixth, Tenth, and Eleventh Circuit Courts hold the perspective that debt should often be recharacterized as equity, while the Fifth and Ninth Circuit apply state law. As a result, Oklahoma is part of the Tenth Circuit Court which characterizes debt     Read More

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Supreme Court Issues Decision on Debt Collectors

Debt collectors are known to use a variety of scare tactics to force individuals into paying a debt. A recent Supreme Court case, however, issued a decision on how to define the role of debt collectors. In the case of Midland Funding LLC v. Johnson, the Court held that a debt collector who files a claim that is barred by the statute of limitation will be considered to have engaged in deceptive, false, or misleading conduct and therefore will not be found to have violated the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The Case in Question The case in question is Midland Funding LLC v. Johnson, which arose in 2014 after Aleida Johnson filed a civil lawsuit against Midland Funding LLC on the basis that Midland had violated applicable law when it filed a proof of claim in Johnson’s bankruptcy case for a credit card debt whose state statute of limitations had already expired. The district court held that Midland’s conduct did not violate the law, but the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals later reversed this decision. The Supreme Court ultimately reversed the Eleventh Circuit’s decision and found that the creditor’s action was not deceptive, false, or misleading. The Supreme     Read More

Supreme Court Decides Bankruptcy Case

The Supreme Court recently ruled that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits individuals who think that they are experiencing abusive debt collection practices to initiate legal actions against banks have bought defaulted loans from other lenders. The Supreme Court’s rule now states the FDCPA does not apply to a company unless that company is collecting debts. This landmark bankruptcy decision is also unique in that it is the first majority opinion written by recently elected Justice Neil Gorsuch. The Case at Hand The case of Henson v. Santander Consumer USA was heard by the Supreme Court concerns a group of debtors who defaulted on their auto loans and tried to initiate a legal action against a group of debtors who defaulted on their auto loans on the basis of predatory collection practices. The Supreme Court, however, found that because Santander owned and serviced the debt, Santander and other similar companies cannot be sued under the FDCPA. Regulations Under the FDCPA The FDCPA prohibits collection agencies from using abusive, deceptive, or unfair practices. These are several types of prohibited activities including: Harassing or using oppressive practices against debtors. Threatening that a lawsuit will be filed against a person when     Read More

Oklahoma Supreme Court Decides Portability Election Case

A “portability election” refers to the ability of a surviving spouse to claim the unused portion of the federal estate tax exemption for a deceased spouse and add this amount to the balance of the surviving spouse’s own exemption. In January of 2017, the Oklahoma Supreme Court decided a case concerning a unique aspect about the amounts in portability elections. In the case of In re Estate of Vose, the Oklahoma Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s holding that required an estate administrator to make a portability election. While this case has the potential to provide some guidance on portability elections, individuals who are engaged in the probate process should not hesitate to contact a knowledgeable estate administration attorney. The Facts of the Vose Case In the case of Vose, a woman and her second husband signed prenuptial agreements prior to marriage. While these prenuptial agreements covered many terms, the agreements did not discuss portability elections. After the woman’s death, the woman’s child was appointed administrator of the woman’s estate. Although the child did not agree with it, an Oklahoma court ordered the portability election for the deceased woman be given to her section husband. The Oklahoma Supreme Court’s Decision     Read More

Oklahoma House Rules That Abortion Is Murder

The Oklahoma House of Representatives recently passed a resolution recently that declared abortion is a form of murder and that the state should use all the power in their authority to prevent abortion. While a resolution does not grant a state the same power as a law, this resolution serves as a reflection of Oklahoma’s House of Representative’s view of abortion. This resolution has been interpreted as a warning to the Oklahoma Supreme Court not to interfere with any legislation concerning abortion.   The Argument Presented by the Resolution   The resolution framed applicable constitutional law as prohibiting abortion. The Declaration of Independence, the resolution argues, grants individuals the unalienable right to life. The resolution also argues that the Constitution prevents states of denying equal protection under the law. The Supreme Court, the resolution claims, overstepped its authority by considering abortion as a federal issue rather than an issue to be decided by the state. While many people have argued that abortion is based on constitutional law, other individuals have argued that abortion is ultimately a family law issue. Abortion intimately impacts the boundaries of a family including affecting mothering, deciding how other children are impacted by the abortion, and     Read More