Monthly Archives: June 2020

Think Twice About Adding a Beneficiary to Your Deed

One of the critical reasons to engage in estate planning is that the upfront costs to establish the proper estate planning strategies often cost much less than the trouble that can arise if a person does not create a proper plan. One of the most costly types of estate planning errors involves the methods that a person utilizes to convey property to loved ones following death or incapacity.    A unique challenge presented by many individuals currently engaged in the estate planning process is that they have been in their “home” or property for many years, during which time the worth of the estate has increased substantially. Consequently, a transfer of the property creates long term gain complications, which means that listing a beneficiary on a property deed is often not the best type of estate planning strategy.    The Challenge Presented by Listing Beneficiaries   Most people list beneficiaries on various estate planning documents including life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and trusts. Consequently, these individuals often make the mistake of thinking that it will present little harm to name a beneficiary on a deed. Even if a person is aware of the risk presented by transferring property in this     Read More

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Deciding Inheritance Issues for Agricultural Property

In many parts of Oklahoma, landowners must answer questions about how agricultural land must pass to loved ones after the owner’s death or incapacity. Questions about how estates can be passed on and what parties who do not inherit ownership of land will receive are common in such cases. Understandably, many Oklahoma agriculture and farm owners discover that it is more difficult to decide how to transfer this property than it is other types of land.   Emotional Connection to Land   For the owners of non-agricultural land, the transfer of property at the end of life is generally a non-emotional process. Most agricultural landowners, however, have a deep connection to the land. Many of these owners recall the process of having to buy out siblings as well as the earlier generation. As a result, while decisions can often be made more quickly and unemotionally for other landowners, this just is not so for the majority of farm owners.   Operation Versus Land Uses   When a person refers to a “farm,” this often includes both the operation of the land as well as the underlying land. Transferring a farm is unique because often the land is transferred differently than     Read More

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The Value of Letters of Instruction

Wills play a critical part in most estate plans, but they should be supported by other critical estate planning documents. These include letters of instruction, which play an important role in making sure that your loved ones know how to handle your estate following your death or incapacity. The following will review the role that letters of instruction can play in estate planning.   The Basic Elements   The content of letters of instruction varies greatly based on a person’s goals. One of the primary purposes of these documents is to provide details about a person’s wishes that have not yet been fully addressed in other estate planning documents.   In addition to addressing how you would like aspects of your funeral or burial handled, these letters can also address critical financial information that has been omitted. Many people rely on letters of instruction to list what insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other types of financial accounts they own.   Letters of instructions do more, however than just list financial accounts. These documents can contain account numbers as well as details about where important documents are stored. Many letters of instruction also contain the passwords required to access electronic financial     Read More

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Estate Planning Opportunities Presented by the Coronavirus Pandemic

It would be an understatement to say that our lives have changed as the result of the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the economy. While many people are facing hardships as they plan for what lies ahead, these difficult times have presented some powerful estate planning strategies. This article reviews some unique opportunities presented by the pandemic that can let you make the most of estate and gift taxes.  Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts These trusts are an ideal way to transfer assets that will appreciate in the future to children without facing transfer taxes. As part of these trusts, an individual transfers interests or securities to an irrevocable trust. Following this transfer, a person still has the right to receive trust annual annuity payments. Because the trust creator retains the full value of the transferred property, a gift is often considered to be made that would be subject to a gift tax.  For these trusts to transfer appreciation in the assets to a person’s children or beneficiaries, the rate of return must be greater than 7250 times the rate as of the date that the trust is created. The greater the return, the more appreciation that can be transferred.     Read More

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