Estate Planning

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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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 Role of Gift and Estate Taxes in Oklahoma

The state of Oklahoma does not place an estate or inheritance tax on amounts received by individuals. Even though Oklahoma does not require these taxes, however, some individuals in the state are still required to pay inheritance taxes by another state. In some cases, however, there are still taxes that can be placed on a person’s estate. Two of the best ways for a person to anticipate the taxes that might be placed on an inheritance are to understand some of the essential laws involving inheritance as well as to speak with an experienced probate attorney.   Federal and Other State Taxes on Estates   While many states do not place inheritance taxes on amounts, some of these states that due include Iowa, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The exact amount that these states will tax depends on several factors including the value of someone’s estate and the beneficiary’s relationship to the deceased person. In addition to state taxes, there is also a federal estate tax that might come into consideration if a significant amount of money is involved. The current amount that requires federal taxes is any inheritance equal to or greater than $5,490,000. As a result, if     Read More

“What Becomes of My Home If I Die Before Paying It Off?”

Once upon a time, owning a home outright was the norm, and dying with a mortgage was unthinkable. Today however, with home prices being as high as they are, and with "downsizing" being the new trend among elderly individuals, it is not uncommon to die with a significant amount of mortgage left to pay off. According, as of 2010 35 percent of individuals aged 65-74 still had a mortgage debt (a 15 percent increase from 1992), while a little more than 20 percent of individuals 75+ still owed money on their homes (a 15 percent increase from 1992). As more and more people are buying homes later in life, those numbers are only projected to increase. Which begs the question: if you still have a mortgage on your home when you pass, what becomes of the home? There are several ways that your estate may be handled if you still owe a mortgage on your home when you pass away. If you still owe a significant amount of money on your home, and if you are worried about what will become of your home (and the subsequent mortgage) when you are gone, contact Jim A. Lyon Law Firm. Our Oklahoma City     Read More

The Role of Property Ownership After Filing for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

By Jim Lyon of Jim A. Lyon Law Firm on Saturday, December 31, 2016. Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows individual to maintain ownership of property in exchange for repayment of at least some of an individual's debts. The reason why Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows individuals to maintain ownership of property is because Chapter 13 bankruptcy is designed for individuals or married couples who are earning at least some income and who are able to repay a portion of their due debts over a period of time. Surrendering Property Ownership When an individual files for bankruptcy, individuals must fill out a Statement of Intention which tells creditors what the individual plans to do with the property. While individuals can choose to keep the property and pay for it, Chapter 13 bankruptcy code allows a bankruptcy filer to resolve a debt by surrendering property. When individuals surrender property in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the individuals should make sure to transfer property quickly to avoid facing additional debts and fines from the city.Individuals should note that even if they have filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the title to property will remain in an individual's name until the title to the property is transferred. Because     Read More

When Should I Make A Will?

Most people do not think to make a will until later in life, only once the fact of their mortality starts to sink in, or after a "triggering event" occurs. Fortunately, many individuals make it to old age and are given the opportunity to create a will. For a select few individuals, however, life is not so kind, and is ended abruptly by an accident or illness. These individuals often have no will in place to instruct their heirs on how their estate should be distributed. Without a will in place, your assets may not go to the individual you intended them for or, worse yet, go to an estranged family member whom you have not had a relationship with for years. At Jim A. Lyon Law Firm, our Oklahoma City probate attorneysencourage individuals to draft a will early on in life, that way they can protect their loved ones and their assets in the event of their death. Many people assume that they have plenty of time to draft a will, but the truth of the matter is that life is full of the unexpected. Prepare for the unexpected, and consult with our lawyers about drafting your estate planning documents today. Triggering     Read More

Who Has the Right to Make Burial Arrangements in Oklahoma?

Death is not something that people commonly talk about, and so when a loved one dies, their family members are left to guess at how they wished to be laid to rest. Because of this, burial arrangements are oftentimes a point of contention amongst family members. Unfortunately, due to conflicting religious views and beliefs, burial arrangement discussions can cause unnecessary tension and fighting at a time when family members should be supporting one another. At Jim A. Lyon Law Firm, we understand that the post-death process is already difficult enough on families, without the added stress of determining the way in which a loved one wished to be memorialized. Because of this, our Oklahoma City probate lawyer encourages individuals to create written instructions regarding their funeral arrangements, or at the very least, designate an individual whom they trust to make those decisions on their behalf. Make Arrangements Before You Pass There are two ways that you can arrange for your own funeral: one is to select an individual whom you feel knows you well, and leave your funeral arrangements up to their discretion. The appointment should be in writing - such as in your will - and witnessed. Another option is to preplan your funeral or cremation.     Read More

Oklahoma Estate Planning Involving Adopted Children

For individuals who die without a will in the state of Oklahoma, that individual's assets will proceed to the individual's closest relatives under state "intestate succession" laws. Intestacy law in the state of Oklahoma is particularly complicated and can include a variety of issues. One common question by many individuals in the estate planning process is what effect an adoption will have on a child who desires to collect an inheritance of a biological parent under applicable law. Law about Wills in the State of Oklahoma For individuals who die without a will in the state of Oklahoma, that individual's children will receive an "intestate share" of that individual's property. For children to inherit under these laws, the state of Oklahoma must consider these individuals the legal children of the deceased individuals. Determining whether an individual is legally a deceased individual's family can be significantly influenced by whether an individual is adopted. Children who are legally adopted will receive an intestate share in the same way as biological children. Foster children and stepchildren who were never legally adopted will not automatically receive a share of a deceased individual's state. Conversely, children who were placed for adoption and legally adopted by another family will not     Read More

Oklahoma Estate Planning Involving Step Children

Estate planning is essential for individuals to make sure that their family is protected and that their property is distributed according to the individual's precise wishes rather than in accordance with Oklahoma law. Dying without adequate estate planning in Oklahoma City or any part of Oklahoma can greatly the amount of obstacles and issues that are encountered surrounding one's death. One of the groups that is often left uncertain about exactly how estate planning matters should proceed are step children, who frequently have questions about intestacy rights. Who Is Considered A Step Child Step children are the children of an individual's partner or spouse. In order to be considered a step child, the child need not be adopted by an individual. In the event that adoption does occur, a step-child legally becomes an individual's child with the same relationship in the eyes of the law as biological children. Because no legal relationship exists between an individual and a step child, an individual has no obligation to leave anything to the individual's step child. While Oklahoma has laws that protect children who are accidentally left out of a will and assign a percentage of an estate to children whose parent dies     Read More