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Tips on Estate Planning During Uncertain Times

The COVID-19 outbreak, as well as economic challenges, have caused many people in Oklahoma to consider how they can create effective estate plans. While uncertain times can make estate planning difficult, some powerful strategies can be utilized to make the most out of estate planning anytime.  To hopefully reduce any anxiety you have about the state of the economy and to help achieve your estate planning goals, the following will review some quick but powerful estate planning tips you should consider utilizing. # 1 - Review Your Investment Portfolio It can be uncomfortable to confront your investment portfolio during this difficult time, but these times offer an excellent opportunity to review your assets and determine whether there are creative strategies to take advantage of the current economic situation. For example, some people are utilizing current low-interest rates to pass assets to beneficiaries. # 2 - Review Your Estate Planning Documents It is not enough to have estate planning documents, you should also periodically review them to make sure that the wishes expressed in these tools are still appropriate. Uncertain economic times have the potential to change various asset management strategies and goals, which is why now is a critical time     Read More

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Updating Your Estate Plan While Quarantined

If you are like many other Americans at the moment, you are likely spending some time in isolation. While you are looking for ways to keep yourself occupied, now is a great time to either create or review your estate plan. Studies show that more than half of the people in the United States do not even have a will. Having a will as well as a few other valuable estate planning documents is one of the best ways to plan for what happens if you ever become incapacitated or pass away. Make Sure You Have a Will Some people think that only the wealthy have “estates,” but in reality, an estate refers to all of the assets that a person owns. A will, or a Last Will and Testament, is created to make sure that your assets are distributed to your loved ones following your death. To be found valid, wills must meet certain requirements. If a person’s assets meet certain monetary thresholds and are passed on through a will, the assets must pass through the probate process, which can be both costly and time-intensive.  While trusts are the best option for many people to pass on assets, some     Read More

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Estate Planning During the Coronavirus

The Dow Jones recently saw a substantial plunge fueled by the spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19. Estate planning, however, is as important as ever during such uncomfortable times. Rather than focus on the next few months or year, it is best to engage in long-term estate planning to make the most out of your estate plan. To help you prepare your estate plan during the Coronavirus, this article reviews some helpful estate planning strategies that can prove advantageous.  Review Your Estate Planning Documents During uncertain times, there are various events like births, deaths, marriages, serious illness, and incapacity that can end up impacting the terms of your estate planning documents. While your intentions might change as the result of life events, you should still make sure that your estate planning documents are adequately updated. As a result, in light of these various changes, you should make sure to adequately review your estate plan and make any necessary changes.  Utilizing Favorable Exclusion Amounts The federal exclusion amount for each person in this country is allowed to exclude up to $11,580,000. Gifts over this limit are taxed at the rate of 40%. Under current law, these amounts will return to a     Read More

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Four Ways to Make Charitable Giving Part of Your Estate Plan

Whether it is honoring a loved one or paying tribute to an important cause, people create trusts for various reasons. Despite its often noble goals, charitable giving also creates some substantial tax issues. While many people who decide to pass on assets to charities do not view tax implications as a high concern, it is still a good idea to reduce taxes so you can pass on the greatest amount of assets possible. The following reviews five powerful ways that you can incorporate charitable giving into your estate plan. Utilize a Charitable Remainder Trust Charitable remainder trusts are a great way to pass on your assets. Under the terms of this trust, an appointed party will receive annual payments from the trust for a period of time. When the beneficiary’s interest in the trust ends, the remaining amount is passed on to a designated charity. These trusts meet specific requirements. Among others, the charity must receive a percentage from the trust when it is initially funded. To make sure the trust meets requirements, the assistance of a skilled estate planning attorney is also often essential. Pass on Assets Through Your Revocable Trust or Will The direct and simple way to     Read More

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Why You Should be Cautious About the Use of “Personal Property” in Estate Planning

Various estate planning terms have taken on specific meanings. There is no helpful definition of “personal property” in Oklahoma besides §68-2807, which states that personal property includes anything except real property like lands and buildings.  In deciding about what constitutes personal property, Oklahoma courts tend to analyze the language used in an estate planning document when deciding whether what constitutes personal property. Sometimes, however, courts also rely on a person’s intent when making a personal property determination. This article reviews some additional factors that courts are likely to consider when deciding what constitutes personal property. Whether an Estate Plan Was Drafted by a Lawyer If you relied on an attorney to create your estate plan, courts will rely on a more traditional meaning of personal property. This is because courts assume that estate planning lawyers have a complex understanding of Oklahoma law. In cases where a person created an estate plan on their own, however, courts will be less likely to construe such an extensive definition. Whether an Estate Plan Contains a Residue Clause Many estate plans include specific gifts, which can be either particular items or a certain amount of money that a person would like to pass on     Read More

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Six Documents You (Probably) Need in Your Estate Plan

Estate planning is ultimately not for us, but for our loved ones. Your survivors will be thankful if you leave behind a well-written estate plan. If you leave behind a mess for your survivors to sort through, however, they can suddenly find themselves in the middle of an unexpected challenge. While many of us want to make our estates easy to handle, it can be hard to determine what estate planning documents you should include. The following reviews six estate planning documents you will likely need to include in your estate plan. Beneficiary Designations When it comes to life insurance or retirement accounts, a person is often asked to name a beneficiary. This appointed individual will inherit the proceeds after you pass away. These designations exist outside of wills and trusts. It is critical to routinely review your estate planning documents to make sure they are up to date. Digital Assets Provisions One of the biggest to estate planning over the last century has been the introduction of digital assets. You should make sure to include details in your estate plan about how your digital assets should be handled. While this includes digital photos, it also includes anything stored in     Read More

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Methods to Improve Your Estate Plan

Most people who have heard stories about celebrities whose families end up facing undesirable consequences because the celebrities failed to create estate plans. Many of these stories involve people who fail to adequately plan for what happens after they die or become incapacitated. To avoid unpleasant results for your beneficiaries, consider the following helpful strategies to make sure that your assets are protected and passed on to your loved ones. Review Beneficiary Designations Some accounts are capable of passing to beneficiaries without having to go through the probate process. It is even possible to name multiple beneficiaries to receive these assets. By reviewing and properly updating these designations every few years, you can make sure your wishes are carried out. In taking the time now to review your estate plan, you can make sure that your assets pass on to your intended beneficiaries. Having Proper Life Insurance Life insurance can help protect your loved ones in case you suddenly pass away or become incapacitated. No matter if you are still working or creating income through Social Security, a pension, or other sources, it is still a good idea to keep life insurance to make sure that your loved ones are     Read More

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Four Reasons You Need an Estate Plan

It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that only the wealthiest people need estate plans. In reality, regardless of a person’s age or net worth, having an estate plan can still serve some valuable goals. Despite the advantage of having an estate plan, data reveals that a large number of Americans still lack adequate estate plans. Regardless of age or wealth, there are some significant advantages that you can realize by engaging in estate planning. This article briefly reviews some of these benefits.  To Determine How Your Assets are Passed on The most basic document involved with estate plans are wills, which name a person who is responsible for the administration after your death. If you have children, it is also possible to name guardians in a will who will care for your children. Other times, you might decide to pass on your assets through beneficiary designations. Regardless of how you decide to pass on your assets, an estate plan can help. To Reduce Taxes Increasing the amount that you pass on to beneficiaries and reducing the amount that is lost in taxes is one of the central goals of estate planning. Fortunately, the Tax Cuts and     Read More

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Three Ways to Reduce Probate Costs

Planning for your death or incapacity might be uncomfortable, but it is the best way to make things easier for your surviving loved ones. By failing to take adequate precautions now, you leave your estate open to additional costs during the probate process. The following reviews some of the most common mistakes people make that leave their estates vulnerable to additional probate costs. Mistaking Estate Taxes for Probate Federal estate taxes apply to estates that are $11.58 million or greater in value. This threshold, however, is different from the probate process. A person whose estate might be still enough to avoid federal estate taxes will still be subject to probate. Not only is probate costly, but it is also a time-consuming process.  It is a good idea to utilize the appropriate estate planning strategies to avoid probate or at least decrease the amount of assets that must go through this process. Not Having an Appropriate Will Approximately 60% of adults in this country do not have any type of estate plan. If you die without an estate plan, your estate will proceed through probate court, which will be a costly and lengthy process. Another large group of people has estate     Read More

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How do You Revoke a Living Trust?

Living trusts have grown in popularity over the last decade. After all, these estate planning documents allow people to achieve goals that are not possible using other types of estate planning methods. Living trusts allow people to both control how assets are distributed as well as change or alter those terms during their lifetimes. If you are one of the many people who decide to alter the terms of your living trust, it can prove helpful if you know exactly how to do this. Knowing When it is Time to Revoke or Amend a Trust All major life events including births, adoptions, marriages, and divorces should make you review the terms of your estate plan. If changes become necessary, you should not hesitate to make them. Often the question is not whether you should revise the terms of your trust, but instead how you should implement these revisions. Instead, the primary question is often how revisions or amendments occur. How Amendments and Revocations are Made The ways in which a person is permitted to alter a revocable living trust are dictated both by the terms of the trust as well as Oklahoma law. Generally, a person in Oklahoma is permitted     Read More

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