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Oklahoma City Legal Blog

The Nature of Pet Trusts

Most people who have pets understand that a significant bond is created between the animal and its owner. Many people, however, fail to consider what to do if something happens to their animal after they die. Statistics suggest that over 500,000 animals each year are abandoned due to the death of the animal’s owner. With adequate planning, however, these pets can be protected. Some of the advantages of including a pet in an estate plan are that it helps to make sure there is someone to take care of the animal after the owner’s death. Also estate plans help to provide clear instructions about the animal’s care. There are fortunately several available methods for a person to make sure that their pet is care for after their death. Outright Gifts Some people decide to leave their pet as well as a gift of money or property for the care of their pet directly to a family member or friend. This gift is often made on the condition that the caregiver receives the assets on the condition that they be used to care for their pet. This option is often best for people who are certain that their chosen caregiver is     Read More

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Things Not to do if You are Debating Filing for Bankruptcy

People who are debating filing for bankruptcy frequently think about what they must do to prepare for their case. There are, however, several things that a person should not do when debating proceeding through the bankruptcy process. To provide a better understanding of what actions should not be taken during bankruptcy, this article will review five mistakes that you should avoid when navigating the bankruptcy process. Things to Avoid: Paying Off Creditors The purpose of bankruptcy is that it helps all or some of a person’s debts be dismissed. Certain unsecured debts including credit cards and medical bills are capable of being discharged through Chapter 7 bankruptcy, while a person who files for Chapter 13 bankruptcy will create a new payment plan. Things to Avoid: Maxing Out Credit Cards It might be tempting to make frivolous purchases prior to filing for bankruptcy, but courts will review all of a person’s financial documents. Many of these last minute bills will not be discharged through bankruptcy, which means that a person will still be required to pay the amount. Things to Avoid: Cashing Out Retirement Savings Workers under the age of 59½ are permitted to take a loan against their retirement accounts.     Read More

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The Role of Disinheritance Clauses in Estate Plans

There are many reasons why people are disinherited from obtaining another person’s assets through an estate plan. No matter the reason why a person wants to disinherit an individual, however, it is important to understand that disinheritance clauses are the most common and effective way to disinherit someone. Important Things to Understand About the Law To disinherit a person, it is essential to use clear language in estate planning documents. Sometimes, however, you might not be able to completely disinherit certain types of heirs. During a consultation, an attorney can help you determine if it is possible to disinherit the desired party. People Who Should Not be Disinherited Before making any changes to your will to disinherit a person, there are some important things to keep in mind. First, it is often not necessary to disinherit a person who is not a relative because that individual would not be to able to inherit under the laws of intestate succession. It is also a wise idea to refrain from disinheriting anyone who needs to handle certain matters after your death. Using a Disinheritance Clause for a Former Spouse If you have been involved in a divorce, but did not revise your     Read More

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Unexpected Benefits of Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy offers a person relief from the pursuit of creditors, but many people fail to realize that there actually a large number of unexpected benefits that arise from bankruptcy. This article will review some of the important but little known benefits that individuals are often able to realize through bankruptcy. Avoid Paying Former Spouses Some Debts Bankruptcy allows a person to discharge some or even all non-support obligations associated with a divorce, which can result in individuals saving a significant amount of money in some cases. Bankruptcy can Reduce the Impact of a Tax Lien In some situations, bankruptcy can result in tax liens being made either entirely or partially ineffective, which can save a person a significant amount of money. Change the Payment Terms for a Loan In many cases, people discover that declaring bankruptcy lets them reduce the monthly payments for a loan. In some cases, bankruptcy can even help a person escape a repayment plan altogether. Erase Judgment Liens on a House Bankruptcy, in many cases, allows a person to avoid judgment liens that have been placed on his or her house, which can prove to be particularly beneficial. Escape Unaffordable Payment Plans Bankruptcy often lets individuals     Read More

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Advice if You are Denied Medicaid Benefits

People who are denied Medicaid or have their benefits terminated are frequently left confused and uncertain about how to proceed. Fortunately, there are some measures that a person in this situation can take to preserve his or her rights. This article will review some of the important steps that a person should take after being denied Medicaid. Request an Administrative Hearing A person who receives Medicaid should make sure to request an administrative hearing within 45 days after being denied Medicaid or having Medicaid terminated. To request an administrative hearing, a person must complete an administrative hearing request form (MSC 0443) and submit the document to to the Department of Human Services. Continue Receiving Benefits Request forms allow a person to keep the same Medicaid benefits while waiting for a hearing. This can be done by selecting this option on the hearing request form. It is important to note that a person must request to continue receiving benefits within 10 days of Medicaid being terminated. Many people benefit from this decision because the rate of Medicaid reimbursement is frequently less than the private pay rate. Prepare for the Hearing Before a Medicaid hearing, states are required to review applications and     Read More

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Things to Avoid During the Bankruptcy Process

For people who have a significant amount of debt, filing bankruptcy is often a wise idea. The bankruptcy process not only lets a person eliminate debt, but in many cases a person is also able to obtain manageable payments and begin planning for a better future. Many people discover that a seasoned bankruptcy attorney is able to help them overcome their financial hardships and determine their available legal options. There are some important things, however, that a person should avoid while declaring bankruptcy. Avoid the Accumulation of New Debt Many people feel the temptation to obtain a new credit card or even personal loan during difficult financial times. There is a risk, however, that creditors might view any financial agreements entered shortly before bankruptcy as a sign that the individual did not intend to repay the amount. In some cases, a person might even be charged with fraud. As a result, individuals should avoid obtaining any type of new debt during this time. Avoid Moving or Transferring Assets As part of the bankruptcy process, a person must list all of his or her assets, which includes any assets that were recently disposed. Some people who recently sold or transferred assets     Read More

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Common Concerns of First Time Executors

Many people are not aware of the various responsibilities of an executor until they have been assigned to serve that role. The role of an executor often involves juggling various time demands as well as learning what the process entails. For executors who are uncertain about what their role entails, it is often a wise idea to speak with a knowledgeable probate attorney like Jim A Lyon, who has several decades of experience helping people navigate the executor process. It can also help to anticipate the various responsibilities of an executor, which is why this article will review some of the questions most commonly asked about the probate process. Do All Assets Proceed Through Probate? No. Not all assets proceed through the probate process. Some of the assets that rarely proceed through probate include assets held in trusts, retirement accounts, and property that is titled in certain ways. As a result, there some situations in which a person might not end up having to act as an executor. There are also some assets that an executor will not be tasked with overseeing. How Much is an Executor Personally Liable? During the probate process, an executor is held personally liable for     Read More

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Supreme Court Hears Bankruptcy Case

Investors who rely on safe harbor provisions in the Bankruptcy Code should begin to consider new methods to obtain some types of shelter. The United States Supreme Court in Merit Management Group LP v. FTI Consulting Incorporated recently ruled in a unanimous decision that one portion of the safe harbor provision under Section 546(e) does not prohibit a bankruptcy trustee from obtaining clawback transfers that are constructive fraudulent conveyances or preferences when a “financial institution” was acting in the role of an intermediary. This case is important to study because it has lasting implications for many people who file for bankruptcy. What are Clawback Protections? A clawback provision enables a trustee to look at a financial transaction prior to filing for bankruptcy to determine if he or she improperly transferred or gave away property that should have remained part of the estate. If it is determined that real estate was improperly transferred, a trustee is able to claw back the property by undoing the transaction and bringing that property back into the estate. If the property is not exempt, a trustee can sell the property for the benefit of creditors. There are two types of transactions that are covered by     Read More

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Steps to Quickly Improve Your Credit Score

For people who have struggled with debt and/or bankruptcy, their credit score plays an important role in helping them obtain a new car, mortgage, or even a new job. While one of the best steps that people with credit card problems can take is to obtain the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney, it is also good advice to understand the various available ways to improve your credit rating. Ask for a Credit Line Increase Rather Than a New Card Requesting an increase in your credit limit is a better idea than obtaining a new credit card because each time a person fills out an application for a new credit card, a company will check his or her credit. The mere presence of an error on a person’s credit report will not automatically weaken that person’s credit rating. Some of the major factors that can be associated with a person’s credit rating and impact his or her credit score include payment history, amount of debt, age of accounts, account mix, and history of credit applications. Create a Plan to Improve Your Credit Score If the information reflected in your credit report is accurate and you want to take plans to improve     Read More

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Commonly Asked Estate Planning Questions

The estate planning process is particularly complicated. As a result, there are many complications that people face while planning for how their estate will be handled after their death. This article will review some of the most common estate planning questions that clients ask about the process. Who Needs an Estate Plan? Many people feel that they do not need an estate plan because they believe that they are not necessary. In reality, there are many types of people who benefit from estate plans including people who want their estate distributed in accordance with their plans after death, people who have assets that are susceptible to high estate taxes, and people whose heirs might need financial assistance after the person’s death. Can You Give Away $10,000 Each Year Without Any Adverse Effects? In accordance with Federal gift tax laws, you are able to gift a specific amount without having to report it or pay Federal gift tax on the amount. The exact amount that is exempt changes each year. While these gifts are not taxable for Federal gift tax purposes, the gifts are fully reportable in some other unique circumstances. Do You Still Need a Will if You Give Everything     Read More