Estate Planning

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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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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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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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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Common Trust Mistakes

Many people use living or revocable trusts as part of their estate plans. Trusts are powerful estate planning tools that can help people achieve a variety of goals including avoiding probate and protecting beneficiaries. A large number of trusts are signed and then placed in a deposit box not to be looked at again for many years, which can create unintended obstacles. To make sure that your trust is used in the best manner possible, it is best to remain informed about the most common mistakes involving trusts. Not Properly Titling Assets in the Name of a Trust Because some assets may still be in your name after your death, it is critical to make sure that all assets are properly placed in you trust. In many cases, with the exception of qualified retirement funds, all assets should be transferred into your trust during your life. Assets that are properly placed in your trust will be distributed in accordance with the terms that you used to create your trust. Failing to Properly Update Your Trust It is critical that a person reviews his or her trust at least once a year to make sure that it still satisfies all needs.     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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Estate Planning for Copyrights

Implementing an estate plan for people with interest in artistic works requires estate planning attorneys to consider various strategies to protect the value of an artist’s creations during life and after death. This advice holds no true no matter if a person is an artist of literary works, paintings, music, architecture, or other creations. Understanding copyright law and how to implement it into a person’s estate plan is just one of these many important considerations. The Importance of Proper Registration Since 1978, copyright has come into existence for works that are original and made in any medium of expression. Enforcing a copyright, however, is dependent on registration with the United States Copyright Office. People who are interested in transferring interest in a copyright can do so in one of several ways. Failure to properly register your trademark will likely result in ownership of the mark being lost even before your passing. Keeping All Important Paperwork Centralized After registering a copyright, an estate planning attorney can work with the mark’s creator to make sure that all documents about the work are located in one central place. With sufficient registration, copyright owners can also make sure that they collect statutory damages and     Read More

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Estate Planning for Small Business Owners

Estate planning methods offer significant benefits for all business owners. By establishing a strong estate plan, a person can safeguard not just a business, but employees and potential heirs, as well. This article will review some of the most important elements about how estate planning applies to people who own businesses. Create a Will Wills that are properly written help provide strong directions about how assets associated with a business should be managed or distributed when the business owner dies. Revocable Trusts Revocable trusts are much more complicated wills and allow an entity to hold assets for the business owner while they are alive. A business owner need not die for a trust to become effective. Instead, a designated party can also assume management of a trust if the business owner or trust creator becomes incapacitated. A revocable trust facilitates the transfer of assets, which helps to avoid extended legal proceedings as well as expenses that are commonly associated with legal cases. Power of Attorney Documents Powers of attorney allow a designated representative to make medical decisions on a business owner’s behalf in case he or she becomes unable to make decisions. Financial powers of attorney are important and let     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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Taking the New Tax Law into Consideration While Estate Planning

Some people delayed estate planning until the 2017 tax law was passed because there were many potential changes that promised to impact these decisions. For estate planning purposes, the most significant part of the tax law is that it increases the amount that each person is able to pass on free of federal estate estate, with the amount raising from $5.49 million to $11.2 million. While the tax law, which is also referred to as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, will help many taxpayers avoid ever paying a federal estate tax, it is still important to engage in sufficient estate planning. The goal of estate planning is often to make sure that you have a thorough and detailed estate plan prior to becoming incapacitated. In consideration of these recent changes to the tax law, there are some important steps that people should take to make sure that their estate plan goals are achieved. While the tax law is complicated, this article will review just some of the most important steps that a person should take. Keep Beneficiary Designations Up to Date Beneficiaries can be named on a variety of estate planning documents including 401Ks, IRAs, and life insurance. There     Read More

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