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Four Things to Consider About Holiday Gifting and Estate Planning

We have all received holiday gifts we secretly did not want or that did not fit us at all. In the same way that mistakes are a common occurrence when people gift Christmas presents, mistakes are also common when people make gifts as part of an estate plan. While there are many complex estate planning laws, by mastering them you can maximize the amount of assets that you pass on to loved ones. The following reviews just some of the critical strategies that you should remember to follow if you plan on gifting assets to a loved one this holiday season. Consider Waiting Until Early in the Year Many people gift during Christmas and the end of the year, but in reality, it is better to pass on gifts early in the year. By gifting early, the year’s gains are transferred to the beneficiary’s tax status. Additionally, by gifting early in the year, you make sure that you have ample time to carefully choose and plan the gift. Consider waiting a month or two and avoiding a rushed gift this holiday season. Plan Carefully for Appreciated Assets Many people write checks when making gifts as part of an estate plan, [...]

2020-12-29T21:02:06+00:00Tags: |

Four Critical Steps for Efficient Estate Planning

Estate planning is rarely as easy as people think it will be. Even after appointing the trustee of an estate or a personal representative, there are often other nuanced decisions that must be made about how your estate plan should be handled. Failure to properly address these challenges now could lead your loved ones to face countless obstacles after you pass away or become incapacitated. Fortunately, by completing some additional assignments now, you can avoid many of these obstacles. The following reviews just some of the strategies that you can follow to achieve your estate planning goals. Sign Any Documents You Can Now You should make sure you have signed all of the documents signed by your bank and financial lender that you can now while you are fully competent. Even when power of attorney documents are involved, a person is still required to sign these documents. Signing these documents now increases the odds that the distribution of your assets will proceed as smoothly as possible after you pass away and that your loved ones will receive assets as quickly as possible. Beneficiaries, however, should still be prepared to wait at least six months and often as long as a [...]

2020-12-29T21:01:40+00:00Tags: |

Three Tips on Creating an Estate Plan as the Guardian of a Special Needs Adult

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have been forced to confront their mortality. Subsequently, a growing number of people are realizing that estate plans are not just for the extremely old and that it is a good idea to make sure you have an appropriate estate plan in place.  If you are the guardian of a special needs adult, it is particularly important to make sure that your loved one has an estate plan in place. Remember, disabled adults are much more likely than adults without disabilities to have various health complications including heart disease, lung disease, and various types of cancers. As the guardian of a disabled person, you must make sure that you are as prepared as possible to navigate these challenges. Having an estate plan in place is one of the best ways to prepare for these hardships. Advance Healthcare Directives On its most basic level, advance healthcare directives allow a person to select an agent to make decisions on the creator’s behalf regarding healthcare decisions in the case that the creator becomes incapacitated and cannot do so. In the case of a special needs individual, it is a good idea to begin by [...]

2020-12-29T20:50:08+00:00Tags: , |

Advice on Preparing for Year-End Estate Planning 

As the presidential election approached, there was substantial discussion about what estate planning actions should be taken before the end of the year. Behind this decision is the notion that, provided the Democrats win the Presidency and take a majority of the Senate, there very well could be a substantial reduction in both the amount of estate and gift exemptions. The following reviews some critical estate planning issues that you should consider as 2020 comes to a close. Exemptions Will Eventually Change Despite current exemptions, there are still many individuals who have taxable estates. Even if the exemption does not immediately revert, it is still set to switch back to its pre-2018 levels in 2026. Individuals with exempt estates can benefit from making tax-exempt gifts now. For people who would not owe exemptions at death now but who would at the time of their death, it is important to consider that there are multiple ways to structure estate planning transfers, including trusts.  Beneficiaries Can Claim Trusts To transfer assets, you might decide to utilize trusts, but remember that trust beneficiaries can disclaim gifts to trusts. In such cases, trusts can utilize terms for alternative dispositions. Some unanswered questions persist, however, [...]

2020-12-29T20:49:43+00:00Tags: |

Understanding the Court’s Role if You Pass Away Without a Will

One of the most critical aspects of estate planning is naming a person who will make decisions in case you become incapacitated or pass away. After your death, a personal representative (or executor) will perform essential tasks like paying outstanding debts and taxes and overseeing the distribution of assets. While representatives play an invaluable role in the resolution of estates, not everyone takes the steps necessary to make this appointment. Instead, if a person passes away without a will, or dies intestate, a judge in an Oklahoma court will decide who should act as that person’s personal representative. When many people learn more about how this appointment is made, they experience an increased motivation to make sure to write the appropriate estate planning documents. How Oklahoma Law Functions in Such a Situation A probate court will appoint an estate administrator in case you die intestate. The court’s decision about how to nominate as an administrator will be influenced by state law. While every state provides a prioritized list of preferred parties to function in this role, Oklahoma’s guidance is particularly detailed. In order, the following parties in Oklahoma are appointed to act as executors: The surviving spouse or someone nominated [...]

2020-11-20T19:10:19+00:00Tags: , , |

Four Things to Routinely Review in Your Estate Plan

Estate plans are not meant to be written in stone. Instead, after creating an estate plan, it is a good idea to routinely revisit the terms of your plan to make sure that it still expresses your values for how to handle your estate in case you are incapacitated or pass away. While they might not seem major, even small changes in your personal life or in the area of tax law can have a substantial impact on the terms of your estate plan. This article reviews some of the critical areas that you should remember to review when it comes time to evaluate the terms of your estate plan. Whether Circumstances That Influence Decisions Have Changed For many people, it is an understatement that 2020 was a year full of change. While children were born and some people got married, there were also many divorces and serious illnesses. Each of these changes has the potential to substantially disrupt your estate plan. For example, a beneficiary might have unexpectedly passed away which means that you will need to appoint another party to receive this share of your estate. Another example might be a person who decides to leave an amount [...]

2020-11-20T18:59:15+00:00Tags: |

Five Members of Your Estate Planning Team

While estate planning is focused on the personal issues of your incapacity or death, it is still a team strategy. The strongest estate plans make use of a team, with each individual performing unique tasks to make sure that your goals are satisfied. It can be confusing, at first, to distinguish the role each individual plays in achieving your goals. ATo help you better create an ideal estate plan, the following reviews some critical parties who can help you make the most of your estate plan. Beneficiary A beneficiary is anyone who receives a beneficial interest in something of value from your estate. While a wide range of individuals can function in the role of beneficiary, it is important that a beneficiary has the maturity necessary to manage assets received from an estate.  CPA CPAs as well as accountants have an intricate understanding of tax laws and can make sure that you create an estate plan that makes the most of available tax frameworks. No estate plan is ever really complete until it takes valuable aspects like transfer taxes into consideration. Financial Power of Attorney Agent Durable powers of attorney are utilized to designate an individual to handle various financial [...]

2020-11-12T02:17:26+00:00Tags: |

Avoid These Common Estate Planning Excuses

Despite the concerns brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, many of us still lead busy lives. We often have little time left for what we want to do, let alone to dedicate toward planning the future. Also, while many people take the initial time to create estate planning documents, they later fail to appropriately update these documents when circumstances change. In the hopes that you will be able to recognize and overcome your justification for delaying estate planning, this article reviews some of the most common reasons why people fail to create or revise estate plans. Your Family Already Knows What Your Plan is If you do not yet have an estate plan, Oklahoma has a series of rules regarding how your estate will be administered if you die without leaving behind an estate plan. For married individuals, these regulations often result in most or all of their assets being passed to the surviving spouse. If a person is not married and has no children, that individual’s parents might end up receiving his or her estate. Remember, if you pass away without a will, a judge who has never met you will apply the law to your estate and distribute [...]

2020-11-12T02:11:25+00:00Tags: |

Five Critical Estate Planning Steps to Take After Your Divorce

Based on research provided by Legal Templates, there has been a 34% increase in divorce filings since the COVID-19 pandemic began. People navigating the divorce process understandably are faced with many issues ranging from how children will be impacted by the end of the marriage to where both spouses will live after the divorce is finalized. As a result, issues involving estate planning often take a back seat. If your divorce involves the division of assets, however, it is critical to take some important steps to plan for your future. Update Your Automobile and Homeowners Insurance One of the most tedious yet critical parts of managing assets after a divorce is to make sure that your various insurance policies are properly updated. This includes updating both your homeowners and motor vehicle policy information. This way you avoid incurring additional liability in relation to any accidents involving your former spouse. Revise Your Health Insurance Policy If you previously had health insurance with your spouse, you will now likely need to obtain your own policy. You might decide to temporarily utilize the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) to stay on your former spouse’s insurance policy. In most cases, however, it pays [...]

2020-11-12T01:16:23+00:00Tags: , |

Selling a House for a Loved One With Dementia

Many people find themselves in the challenging position of having to sell a loved one’s home to pay for that person’s medical care. While this is a difficult ordeal regardless of your loved one’s condition, selling a home becomes even more complex if a loved one is suffering from dementia or mentally incapacitated. To better prepare individuals who find themselves in such a situation, the following reviews critical details that caregivers should appreciate before taking steps to sell their loved one’s home. Can a Person With Dementia Sell Their Home? Only the individual who owns a home can transfer the house to a buyer. If an elderly person has become incapacitated, that individual must appoint someone else through the terms of a durable power of attorney document to act on the individual’s behalf before a sale can occur. If a caregiver or family member has no legal authority through the proper estate planning tools to do so, this individual cannot sell the home. Selling a Parent’s Home When You Have Power of Attorney The authorizations in a power of attorney document distinguish what a person can and cannot do. Many financial power of attorney documents grant an agent the broad [...]