Oklahoma City Legal Blog

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

Bankruptcy and Co-Signed Loans

Co-signed loans arise when a lending institution does not feel that a person should have sole financial responsibility and requires a more creditworthy person to sign the loan agreement. If you can no longer afford your co-signed loan or are going through the bankruptcy process and are confused about how the process affects your loan, you likely feel confused and uncertain about how to proceed. One of the best steps that you can take in this situation is to obtain the assistance of a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney. What to Expect if You Default on a Co-Signed Loan The role of a co-signer is to make sure that your loans are repaid. Parents co-sign loans for their children because young adults often have not yet built sufficient credit. In other situations, an adult will co-sign other adult’s loans, which can create complications if a default occurs. In these situations, the financial institution will often attempt to force the co-signer to take over payments. The Effect of Bankruptcy Filing for bankruptcy results in an automatic stay, which is a type of court order directing creditors to stop attempting to collect debts from a person. As a result, declaring bankruptcy offers a form     Read More

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Eliminating Mortgage Liens Through Bankruptcy

Some people are able to eliminate mortgage liens on their house during bankruptcy in a process referred to as “lien stripping.” It is important for people to know that lien stripping for most liens is only available through Chapter 13 and not Chapter 7 bankruptcy. To strip a lien, it is also required that the amount is not a first portion mortgage and that the value of the house is less than the payoff of the first mortgage. The Different Liens and Which Bankruptcy Chapters Apply There are three different types of liens that a person might want to strip, which include the following: Judicial liens arise from judgments in law suits. Statutory liens encompassed tax liens and property tax liens. Voluntary liens encompass deeds of trust, home equity lines of credit, and mortgages. The only liens that can be stripped through Chapter 7 bankruptcy are judicial liens. If a person files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and wants to keep a house or other asset, he or she will be required to repay all loans secured by the house even if a loan is underwater. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, every kind of lien can be reduced to the value of     Read More

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The New Estate Tax Law

The new estate tax law in the country doubles the exemptions that are available to a person after death, increasing  the amount to $11 million per person. Additionally, married couples are able to leave a combined $22.4 million worth of property without an estate tax being placed on it. This exemption is also be expected to increase by several hundred thousand dollars each year based on inflation. If estate tax law remains unchanged, however, the exemption will be cut in half beginning in 2026. Reasons to Stick With Your Current Estate Plan If your combined estate presently exceeds $11.2 million or if you expect this amount to be exceeded in the next few years, it is often a wise idea to stick with your current estate plan. You might also have other reasons to keep your current plan including children from former relationships. The best way to determine the advantages and disadvantages of revising your estate plan is to speak with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney who will be able to anticipate exactly how your current plan will be impacted. Estate Planning Issues Related to Trusts There are also new estate planning laws in the country that allow a surviving     Read More

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Why You Need an Estate Plan Today

Creating a strong estate plan is often one of the best ways for a person to articulate his or her end of life goals and to ensure they are achieved. Many people, however, are resistant to decide estate planning issues because they are afraid to discuss issues associated with dying. As a result, many people either lack estate plans, have wills that are not properly updated, or are not sure what their estate plans say. An attorney can prove to be quite helpful in determining how and why estate plans should be created. This article will review some of the reasons why you should consider proper estate planning now, before it is too late. Estate Plans Avoid Established Law If a person does not have a proper estate plan, the state of Oklahoma will determine how his or her estate should be divided based on established law. After a person’s death, his or her estate is divided based on ownership, beneficiaries, and state law. As a result, the lack of a proper estate plan takes away a person’s ability to determine how his or her estate should be divided. Estate Plans Let You Articulate End of Life Goals An estate     Read More

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Department of Justice Issues Cannabis Ruling

There have been some substantial changes in the last few years regarding how the state of Oklahoma treats the use of marijuana. For example, the Governor of Oklahoma has helped to make legal the use of some THC cannabis oil for the treatment of epilepsy. To be considered legal in the state of Oklahoma, the THC oil must be no more than .3% THC. Legislation in the state of Oklahoma also allows marijuana products that are supported by medical studies. With CBD oils legalized, the Governor of Oklahoma is also in the process of attempting to legalize marijuana. Despite the legalization of CBD oil in Oklahoma, marijuana is still prohibited at a federal level. As a result, the federal government still lists marijuana as a Schedule I drug. This clash represents just one of the many contradictions between how state and federal law treat marijuana. A recent decision made by the federal government has had a significant impact on the rights of some marijuana-based businesses in the state that declare bankruptcy. The Recent Bankruptcy Court Ruling In a recent ruling, the United States Department of Justice issued a statement to inform business owners that marijuana-based businesses are not able to     Read More

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Selecting an Executor for Oklahoma Estate Administration

Probate is the court supervised process in which a judge determines how a will applies to the distribution of assets and debts belonging to a deceased person. The amount of time involved in the probate process changes based on whether family members can agree on how the process should occur. Overseeing this process will be an executor, who can be selected in a will or appointed by a court of law. To make sure that a strong executor is appointed in estate planning documents, many people find it essential to contact a skilled attorney. Tips on Selecting an Executor Executors are named in a legal document which must meet certain requirements. In addition to contacting a skilled estate planning attorney, it is also often beneficial for individuals who are about to be engaged in this process to understand some important advice that will make the whole process easier. Name a Second Executor. It is important for individuals to locate not just one but two potential executors in case the first executor is unable to perform the function for whatever reason. Finding more than two potential executors, however, is frequently difficult to manage. Potential Limitations in Selecting an Executor. There are     Read More

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How Long Will Probate Take?

OKC Probate Attorney Jim A. Lyon provides legal services for probates and estates. There are alot of common questions regarding probate law. One of the most common questions is 'How long will probate take?'. There is, unfortunately, no universal answer to how long the probate process in Oklahoma will be. There are a variety of elements that influence exactly how long each probate will take. One of the best ways to limit the length of the probate process is to retain the assistance of skilled legal counsel. Another way to anticipate the length of probate is to understand the various factors that can affect the length of the process. Factors that Influence the Length of Probate There are numerous factors that can influence how long the probate process takes, but some of the most common factors that influence this process include the following: The Location of the Personal Representative: When personal representatives live close to the attorney, it can be easier for individuals to quickly visit legal counsel at a moment’s notice resulting in a quicker process. The Number of Beneficiaries: The more beneficiaries that are involved in the case, the longer the probate process will often take. The reason for     Read More

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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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