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     Read More

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Mistakes Frequently Made in Trust Administration

Creating a trust helps people achieve various important goals. Trusts help to manage assets and property as well as make sure that assets are appropriately distributed after a person's death. Trusts can also protect from creditors and others who are interested in collecting on debts. Despite these advantages, however, administering a trust appropriately is not easy. There are several mistakes that people commonly make while handling trusts. Not Understanding What is Required as a Trustee Sometimes, trustees are appointed without being certain about what their responsibilities are. Other times, ambiguous language in the terms of the trust leaves a trustee uncertain what the trust’s creator wanted. Because trustees are personally liable for mismanagement of trusts, it is a good idea for trustees to carefully identify what duties are requested and whether any potential conflicts need to be resolved first. Mismanagement of Trust Assets Trustees have a duty to act in the best interest of the trust beneficiaries and must also conform to federal laws and regulations. These regulations permit beneficiaries to pursue payment from trustees for any investment decisions that lead to financial losses. Trustees, however, can protect themselves by delegating investment duties to a professional investor. Not Remaining Neutral     Read More

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Recognizing When it is Time to Revise Your Estate Plan

Life changes. So does the way that we should handle our estate plans. As a result, it is a good idea to continuously review your estate plan to make sure that it reflects both your current and future goals.  Many life changes necessitate a revision of your estate plan, which is why it is a good idea to routinely read over the terms of your estate plan. This article was created to help provide a better idea of what situations should necessitate a fine-tuning of your estate plan. Federal Changes The exemption amount for federal estate gift and estate tax exemptions has changed significantly over the last few years, due in no small part to 2017’s Tax Cut and Jobs Act. If you wrote your estate plan before this time, it might be a good idea to revise your estate plan to reflect these changes.  Additionally, as 2020 nears its end, changes in both congressional and presidential leadership could also signify substantial changes in laws that impact estate planning.  Marital Status Changes Changing your marital status can greatly disrupt how your assets are transferred after a loved one dies. Marital status can include not just getting married but also divorce,     Read More

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Critical Ways to Maintain Your Advance Health Care Directive

The pandemic has disrupted many aspects of our daily lives. The pandemic has also resulted in significant changes for estate planning, which includes how people think about advance health care directives. Often, these directives specify the type of medical care that patients would like to or do not want to receive in case they are not able to communicate.  These documents also serve the invaluable role of expressing the specific approach that patients would like towards life-saving measures. Many times, advance directives are used in combination with living wills, which appoint a health care proxy to make decisions in case a person is incapacitated.  The Unpredictable Nature of the Coronavirus Tragically, during the coronavirus pandemic, many people are admitted to the hospital without loved ones present due to concerns about how the disease will spread. The most serious COVID-19 patients are as a result at a significant risk of having their intent overlooked by medical professionals.  Additionally, the trajectory of the virus varies greatly, and often there is not a large window in which to treat a person. By having an advanced healthcare directive in place, however, a person can greatly increase the likelihood that their intent is known.  Assumptions     Read More

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Is Guardianship Right for Your Oklahoma Estate Plan?

Elderly individuals are a vulnerable population, and unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has only made this more true. Besides being one of the hardest-hit age groups, the negative impacts of isolation can also have a detrimental impact on the well-being of older adults. Unfortunately, isolation also means that degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s can develop without being noticed early. While some people think that pursuing guardianship might be a good strategy if a loved one ends up in such a situation, in reality, guardianship may or may not be the best option. The Guardianship Process in Oklahoma Guardianship in Oklahoma can only be appointed by a court. Located at Title 30 of the Oklahoma Statutes, the state's guardianship laws require a person seeking guardianship to file the appropriate paperwork, pay court fees, and attend a court hearing. Guardianship is only granted over an adult when the adult is determined to be either fully or partially incapacitated. An incapacitated individual is someone who is over the age of 18 and not able to make competent decisions regarding their life. Oklahoma law acknowledges three types of guardianship. General guardians look over a person and all of his or her property, limited guardians exercise limited     Read More

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The 2020 Presidential Election and Your Estate Plan

In 2020, many people had various parts of their lives changed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. With the United States presidential election scheduled for November 3 of this year, many of us are about to have our lives changed even more. As we anticipate this event, it is critical to review the terms of your estate plan. After all, estate plans should be reviewed periodically to make sure that the plan is capable of achieving your estate goals in a way that reflects existing laws. If you have not yet written your estate plan but are preparing to do so, you should create your estate plan in consideration of these potential changes. While there is no saying how the election will unfold, you can take the time now to make sure your estate plan accurately reflects any necessary changes.   How the 2020 Election Could Change Things   If the Republican Party prevails in the election, the party has proposed few changes and will instead maintain existing estate planning taxes as they are under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts. In contrast, if the Democratic party prevails in the election, they have proposed several critical changes to     Read More

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Should You Place Real Estate in a Trust?

If you are interested in avoiding probate, you might have considered placing property in a trust. You might also have questions about whether the trust will be able to protect from creditors or remove the real estate from your taxable assets. This article reviews some critical details to understand about placing real estate in a trust, but remember that in these situations it also helps to speak with a skilled attorney.   How Trusts Function   Before discussing reasons to place real estate in a trust, it helps to understand some of the most basic terms used in relation to trusts, which include:   A beneficiary is a person designated to receive assets under the terms of the trust A grantor is an individual who establishes and fund the trust A trustee is an individual tasked with managing the assets in a trust   Avoiding Probate by Placing Real Estate in a Trust   The main advantage of placing real estate in a trust is to avoid the probate process, which can be both costly and lengthy. Passing real estate to loved ones through the terms of a will, however, results in the assets being subject to various costs. Because     Read More

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How to Stop Stalling and Write Your Will 

Despite what some people believe, estate plans are not only for the wealthiest or the oldest individuals. While simple estate planning documents like wills can benefit everyone, it is easy to delay writing them. After all, no one likes to be confronted with the idea that they are dying or might one day need someone else to raise their children.    If you have not gotten very far in creating an estate plan, you face the danger of dying “intestate,” which means that you will die without estate planning documents that guide your loved ones on how to handle things. To make sure that you create the necessary estate plan, it is helpful to remember several helpful estate planning tips.   Remember Why You are Doing it   Rather than focus on yourself, remember that estate plans are the best way to make sure that you provide for your loved ones. Providing details about what you want to happen after you pass away as well as who you would like to care for children who pass away can be a tremendously meaningful thing for your family. Making these decisions now saves you the expenses of later having to pay for     Read More

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Potential Estate Tax Changes Due to the 2020 Election

While the date of the 2020 election comes closer, estate planning lawyers are informing clients to anticipate the various changes to estate planning taxes that are likely to occur regardless of which candidate prevails. The following reviews some areas of estate planning that are likely to change following the 2020 Presidential election.   Decreased Estate and Gift Tax Exemptions   Even if it does not change due to a shift in political administrations, the existing estate and gift tax exemption of $11,580,000 will decrease in 2026 to the much lower amount of $5,000,000. This exemption could lower in 2021, however, as part of Democratic tax reforms. Similarly, the current generation-skipping tax exemptions are $11,580,000 and Vice President Biden has suggested that this amount could be lowered to $3,500,000 per individual.   Increased Estate Tax Rates   Since 2013, the estate tax has been 40%. Taxpayers who passed away in 2011 or 2012, however, utilized an estate tax rate of 35%. Not too long ago, in the early 2000s, the estate tax rate was between 45% to 55%. While the Democrat Presidential Nominee is likely to decrease the estate and gift tax exemption, it is also likely that additional tax reforms     Read More

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Everything You Need to Know About Probate

Probate is a critical court-supervised proceeding that is utilized to take control of a deceased person’s estate. While Oklahoma has some nuanced laws regarding how probate proceeds in the state, the process still has the overall purpose of both authenticating and validating a person’s will and making sure that debts are paid.   What Does Probate Mean?   Probate refers to a court-controlled proceeding in which control is taken of a deceased person’s estate. The probate process refers to transferring ownership of a deceased person’s assets to beneficiaries. Some of the primary players involved with the probate process include:   The executor or personal representative is tasked with administering the estate. These individuals help to make sure that assets in an estate are distributed according to a will. Beneficiaries are the individuals who inherit assets from an estate. Sometimes people who are not directly named in estate planning documents might also believe that they have a claim as beneficiaries. Creditors might be notified of the probate proceeding and can sometimes collect on debts that are owed by an estate.   Understanding How the Probate Process Works   After a person’s death, a surviving loved one will likely need to collect     Read More

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