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Common Mistakes Made During the Estate Planning Process

None of us is perfect. Many of us are prone to making a mistake here or there. While mistakes in some areas of life can easily be looked past, in estate planning, mistakes have the potential to result in long-lasting consequences for your loved ones.  The following will take a brief look at some of the most common estate planning mistakes. The Most Common Types of Estate Planning Errors One of the most frequent estate planning errors that people make is failing to create any type of estate plan at all. There are a number of reasons why individuals fail to create an estate plan, but one of the most common reasons is that some people believe that estate planning is only for the wealthy or only for those with large families.  In reality, anyone who has certain wishes for how things should proceed after they pass away or become incapacitated can benefit from creating an estate plan. Otherwise, courts will be required to make decisions about how assets should be distributed based on state intestacy law.  Failure to create advance health care directives will also result in your loved ones being forced to make difficult decisions about the level     Read More

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How to Make the Most of Life Insurance Policies and Trusts

There are a number of estate planning funding sources. For example, death benefits received from a life insurance policy can often be considerable. These benefits can then either be paid directly to beneficiaries or can be placed in a trust and distributed to a beneficiary at a later date.  The following will review some of the reasons to consider funding a trust with benefits from a life insurance policy.  Using Trusts for Benefits is More Advantageous Some people decide to name an individual and an alternative to receive benefits from a life insurance policy, but it is often a wiser idea to name a trust as a beneficiary.  In many cases, there are limitations placed on naming a secondary alternative death beneficiary who receives benefits if the first named party does not survive the policy holder. Instead, placing life insurance benefits in a trust that contains instructions for a trustee on how the amount should be distributed is often a much more preferable option.  This is because trusts can be drafted in such a way to protect a beneficiary who would spend assets unwisely if they directly received them. Furthermore, trusts can also be used to protect assets from creditors.      Read More

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Ways to Add Flexibility to a Trust

The Tax Cut and Jobs Act of December 2017 offered a number of advantages to individuals who are interested in estate planning. This new law, however, is not without its limitations. For example, many of the provisions included in the act will expire in 2025. As a result, it is critical to consult with an estate planning attorney to ensure that your planning techniques will carry you through. One helpful technique is to make sure to include provisions in trusts that make them flexible and capable of adapting to changes in your life circumstances as well as the law. The following will review some of the most helpful strategies that can be used to make trusts flexible. Decanting The decanting process involves moving assets from an old trust into a new one that better reflects current circumstances or which contains more advantageous terms. It is even possible to use the decanting process to alter irrevocable trusts, which generally are not capable of being altered.  While many states have laws allowing the decanting process, Oklahoma currently does not.  Even though it is currently not possible to decant a trust in Oklahoma, if your estate will likely be administered elsewhere, it is     Read More

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Oklahoma Retirement Documents

Getting used to retirement can be challenging. You might feel anxiety, fear, and stress as you transition into a new phase of your life. In addition to these complex emotions, you have some practical matter to grapple with, as well. It is important and necessary to have your finances in order as you enter retirement, and have a solid plan for your health care and administration of your estate, should the unexpected arise. Your planning should involve creating and keeping safe all of the necessary legal documents to make sure that your goals are achieved.  The following will review some of the important documents that you should include in your estate planning.  Wills The most common type of estate planning document is the will. Wills are legal documents that allow us to express our wishes regarding how our assets and property should be distributed after our deaths as well as who will care for any minor children. Despite the great importance of wills, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) reports that approximately four out of 10 individuals in the United States have a will. Some people are wary of creating a will because it involves acknowledging one’s own mortality.     Read More

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Estate Planning Tips From George Washington

One of the many topics followed by this blog concerns recent developments in the area of estate planning. There are some invaluable lessons, however, that a person can learn from Founding Father, George Washington. A review of Washington’s will provides a shining example of how to address issues of communication, clarity, and customization when estate planning. George Washington’s Estate Plans As part of his will and last testament, which became effective in 1799, George Washington articulated his vision for the future. First, Washington bequeathed the use of his estate to his wife and first lady, Martha Washington. Additionally, George Washington used his will to forgive the debts of many of his family members. Furthermore, Washington established a school for orphans and passed on stock.  While Washington passed away over 200 years ago, the goals achieved by his will and last testament are relevant today. Clocking in at over 5,500 words, the will is also remarkably precise. While your estate planning might not require the same degree of care that George Washington’s plans did, there are still some valuable lessons that can be learned from his estate plan documents. The terms of Washington’s last will and testament will hopefully be a     Read More

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What are Bypass Trusts?

Establishing an effective estate plan is one of the best ways to make sure that your assets are properly handled following your death. Based on the exact details of your situation, it is worth considering whether a bypass trust would be able to help achieve your goals.  The following will take a brief look at what bypass trusts are as well as some of the benefits that can be taken advantage of through the use of this estate planning tool.  How Bypass Trusts Operate Bypass trusts are legal agreements that offer married couples the opportunity to avoid estate taxes after a spouse passes away. When one spouse passes away, an estate’s assets are divided into two separate trusts. One trust is categorized as marital, while the second is a bypass trust. Marital trusts are revocable and belong to the surviving spouse. The terms of revocable trusts are capable of being changed by the individual who created the trust. Bypass trusts, however, are irrevocable and their terms cannot be changed.  Surviving spouses often act as the trustees of bypass trusts. It is the duty of a trustee to make sure that assets from a couple’s estate are appropriately divided into each     Read More

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Estate Planning Advice for Parents With Older Children

As summer draws to an end and fall approaches, parents with children who are about to attend college face a number of big decisions. While it might be difficult right now to directly acknowledge it, once a child reaches the age of 18, he or she is viewed in the eyes of the law as an adult and the parent loses a great amount of control over the child. For this reason, it is vital that parents of older children ensure that those children have a sufficient estate plan in place.  There is a long-standing myth that younger people do not need estate plans, but in reality, serious accidents involving younger individuals occur all the time. The following will review some of the important types of estate planning documents that your older children might need. Healthcare Powers of Attorney Children who reach the age of 18 should make sure to designate a health care power of attorney, who will appoint an individual to access the child’s medical records in case the child ends up incapacitated. In some situations, these documents also appoint individuals to make healthcare decisions on the incapacitated child’s behalf.  If something happens to a child and he     Read More

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Estate Planning Following a Cancer Diagnosis

A cancer diagnosis will greatly impact every aspect of your life, including finances, insurance coverage, and estate planning. While you may have put your estate plan together prior to receiving a cancer diagnosis, not everyone has done so. If that is the case, the following are some considerations for putting together a plan or altering your existing plan after a cancer diagnosis.  Learn as Much as Possible About What the Future Could Hold Following a cancer diagnosis, many people feel overwhelmed by the amount of information they receive. Despite this, it is important during this difficult time to ask a number of important questions to get a better understanding of your financial future. Once treatment for the cancer begins, many people discover that they have neither the time nor energy to address these issues. Some of the questions that you should ask include how much of your treatment will be covered by insurance and whether a loved one will act as a care manager or whether you will be the one tasked with handling these issues. Provide Your Estate Planning Lawyer With Adequate Details Many of the details involved with a cancer diagnosis can be difficult to share with others.     Read More

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Reasons to Estate Plan Before the End of Your Life

It can be challenging to prepare for the numerous complications that can arise during a person’s life. It is just as important to perform adequate planning for the end of a person’s life. Adequate estate planning is invaluable because it can remove the uncertainty about how a person’s estate will be handled following his or her death.  While many people falsely believe otherwise, estate planning is important for more than just the richest individuals. Instead, estate planning can play a valuable role in the lives of all people, rich or poor. Even if you have a small estate, adequate planning is also still particularly helpful.  To make sure that you fully address the numerous issues concerning estate planning, the following will address some of the important issues you should make sure to consider. Who Will Care for Minor Children Because minor children are unable to make decisions on their own, it is important to appoint a conservator who will make decisions about who will watch over these children in case something happens to you.  The conservator will often be tasked with managing all of the assets that you intend to pass to your children to make sure that these resources     Read More

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Estate Planning Issues When a Loved One Has a Long-Term Illness

No matter if it is arthritis, Alzheimer’s, or multiple sclerosis, long-lasting medical conditions should influence how an estate plan is written. This is an important issue because millions of individuals are living with chronic illnesses.  The following will review some of the important steps that individuals who suffer from chronic conditions should follow when estate planning. The Role of Revocable Trusts A number of estate plans utilize revocable trusts. One of the primary purposes of a revocable trust is to avoid the costs and other challenges that can arise during the probate process.  Many people with chronic medical conditions discover that revocable trusts are a powerful way to plan for the succession of finances. Some individuals with revocable trusts even decide to appoint trust protectors who help to safeguard the trust. The Role of Living Wills A living will is a document that contains a person’s health care wishes, including end-of-life issues. These documents can also reflect a person’s religious beliefs. For individuals with chronic health issues, there are unique considerations involved with living wills including how potential unique complications with a disease should be handled.  There also might be certain courses of treatment that are anticipated when a disease     Read More

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