Estate Planning

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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Things to Avoid While Retirement and Succession Planning

Our legal counsel has helped many individuals with retirement and succession planning. While there are many steps that a person should make sure to implement in this process, there are also some elements that it is important to avoid. This article will review some things that you should avoid when planning for the future. Avoid Impulsive Decisions It is important that you avoid making any impulsive decisions when estate planning. You should provide yourself with a sufficient amount of time to make sure that all decisions are fully considered. Be Realistic It is important to begin estate planning by evaluating what you have and determining what types of gifts can be made. By being honest about what you can spend, it is possible to be realistic information about how your estate can be distributed. Document Any Gifts It is important for you to document any gifts that you provide to others. Documenting this information is important to establish ownership and make sure that the property owner’s wishes are fully executed. Equal is Different From Fair Dividing assets equally among beneficiaries might not be fair to some people. As a result, it is important to treat your beneficiaries as fairly and     Read More

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Deciding When Lack of Capacity Exists

When a dispute exists concerning a person’s will, one of the most common questions is whether that individual had the capacity to create the document in question. It is often quite difficult to challenge a will. Unless it can be demonstrated that the individual had a lack of capacity, a challenger will be unlikely to raise a strong case. In deciding whether a person lacked capacity to create an estate planning document, it is often vital to review a person’s medical records. If you believe that a person lacked the capacity to create a will and now wish to challenge the document, it is important to understand exactly what lack of capacity in Oklahoma estate planning means. Many individuals also discover that it is just as important to obtain the services of a knowledgeable estate planning attorney. What Constitutes Lack of Capacity A person’s mental capacity encompasses that individual’s ability to make rational decision and to process information. A person who has a lack of capacity often experiences difficulty analyzing details. Why Lack of Capacity is Unique There are many medical conditions that can result in a person experiencing lack of capacity. Some of these conditions include Alzheimer’s Disease and     Read More

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Things to Consider When Revising an Estate Plan After Divorce

Divorce results in a number of substantial life changes for many individuals. There are many issues that concern individuals going through a divorce including custody rights and how property will be divided. An additional element that many individuals should consider during a divorce is updating their estate plans. Updates to the estate plan should reflect a person’s new perspective on how end-of-life issues should be handled now that the person is no longer married, and many other changes. It is important that a person understands the many elements of an estate plan that can be affected by a divorce. Revocations of Prior Wills Estate planning laws in the state of Oklahoma dictate that a person’s new will in the state of Oklahoma wll replace any previous wills. It is always a wise idea, however, to make sure that no previous wills continue to remain effective. Even though many wills can be revoked by destroying the documents themselves, some types of wills require being processed through a court of law. Additionally, a new will should also contain a statement that any prior existing wills or versions of the existing will are revoked. Changes to Health Care Directives A person should determine     Read More

Seven Signs that Joint Tenancy is Right for You

There are several ways in which a person can retain interest in a piece of property in the state of Oklahoma. Depending on the facts surrounding property ownership, a person should make a determination about what piece of property is right for him or her. One of the most common types of property ownership, joint ownership, refers to when two or more individuals retain ownership rights in a piece of property. This article will review some of the reasons why joint ownership of property might be right for you. The Survivor Element of Joint Ownership In joint tenancy properties in Oklahoma, when a co-owner dies, that person’s property interest passes to the surviving owners. While some people might be okay with this type of property arrangement, other individuals are not. Despite this feature, it is important for property owners to remember that joint tenancy is not a substitute for a will. A will is required to dispose of any other types of ownership rights that might be associated with this property. Ownership Rights can be Transferred to Third Parties If a property owner transfers his or her title to another person, the purchaser obtains only an undivided one-half interest in     Read More

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