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Oklahoma City Legal Blog

Estate Planning Advice for People Nearing Tax-Exemption Limits

Taxes are often said to be one of the few unavoidable parts of life. The degree to which you end up paying taxes, however, can change substantially. Even though it is currently set at $11.7 million for singles and $23.4 million for a married couple, the estate tax exemption is set to expire in 2026. Following the government’s decision to create various pandemic recovery programs, it is likely that tax rates will increase.  The uncertainty generated by estate tax exemptions means that anyone with over $5 million in assets is likely to be curious about various strategies that can be utilized to minimize taxes. The following reviews some estate planning strategies that you might consider if you are close to estate tax exemption limits.  Make the Most of Annual Exclusions One of the best ways to reduce your taxable estate is to maximize your annual exclusion limit, which is currently set at $15,000 a year for each individual who receives a gift. Remember, it is possible to make gifts to as many people as desired provided the amount is less than $15,000 without facing tax consequences.  Set up an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust An irrevocable life insurance trust involves a [...]

2021-05-05T03:02:49+00:00Tags: , , |

Making Critical Estate Planning Changes During the COVID-19 Pandemic 

One of the many indirect effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is that many people have begun to review their estate plan and assess whether things are in place for the unfortunate day when they become incapacitated or pass away. If you are one of the many people who has not taken the time recently to review your estate plan, this article reviews some helpful strategies to make updating your estate plan easier.  Keep Estate Planning Documents Organized and in One Place Many people know that they need to make various changes to their estate planning documents, but when it comes time to revise the documents struggle to find where important information is located. While details about a new birth in the family might be located in one location, other details about an appreciated asset might be located elsewhere. By doing your best to keep your documents organized and centralized, you can greatly cut down on the amount of time it takes to revise your estate plan. This holds even if you are relying on the assistance of an estate planning lawyer to make these changes.  Consider Triggering Moments A power of attorney refers to a legal document and legal relationship [...]

2021-05-05T02:58:01+00:00Tags: , |

Four Issues to Consider About Lifetime Gifts

Most of us are familiar with the quote that it is better to give than it is to receive. No place does this quote hold more true than the field of estate planning. By making gifting part of your estate plan, you can realize some substantial tax-savings advantages as well as other benefits. If you are debating making lifetime gifting part of your estate plan, this article reviews some important issues that you should consider. Current Lifetime Gift Exemption Amounts A person in 2021 can transfer $11.7 million during his or her lifetime without being subject to any estate or gift taxes. If the assets that you are passing on are greater than this amount, a 40% tax will be placed on the amount that surpasses this threshold. If your estate is subject to federal estate taxes, gifting assets while you are still alive is one of the best ways to reduce the taxes that are ultimately placed on your estate. Gifting Can Avoid Substantial Future Taxes By gifting assets from your estate today, you can sometimes avoid future appreciation and subsequently substantial future taxes in your estate. The taxes today that you might face today could be substantially less [...]

2021-04-26T00:26:57+00:00Tags: , , |

Four Helpful Estate Planning Tips for Blended Families

Estate planning is often complex. For people who are estate planning around blended families, the process can be particularly challenging. Blended families can take several forms, the most common of which is married couples who have children from previous marriages. Typically, people in blended families want to make sure that everyone including children from previous marriages receives the best care possible. Fortunately, some helpful estate planning strategies can achieve blended family goals while avoiding the possibility of friction or undesirable consequences.  Consider Utilizing a Prenup Even though some people view prenuptial agreements as counter-productive to romance and long-lasting marriages, these documents provide protection and a degree of predictability for what the future holds. If one person in a marriage has children from a previous relationship, a prenuptial agreement can help to make sure assets are preserved for these children. Take Adequate Steps if You Get Remarried If you are planning on getting remarried, it is critical to perform some necessary estate planning steps. First, you should perform a detailed analysis of your assets and debts. You should make sure to share these details in full with your future spouse. It is also a good idea to assess whether or not [...]

2021-04-26T00:23:07+00:00Tags: , , |

Deciding When to Proceed to Court During Estate Contests

During estate contests, family members often end up mad at one another. In these situations, a common question asked by family members is, “When is the right time to proceed to court?” Surprisingly, the answer to this question is often that only when everything else has failed and no other options exist is it a good idea to proceed to court. Instead, there are many other attractive and easier options to resolve estate issues. What Types of Claims are Common in Contested Estates? It is common for estate contests to involve various types of claims. Some of the most common claims brought up during estate disputes include: Actions for the accounting of a trust or estate  Actions for the removal of an executor trustee due to mismanagement of an estate or failure to make adequate distributions  Estate planning documents are invalid due to lack of capacity or undue influence Guardians of an incapacitated individual There are some situations where going to court is either required or necessary. There is a specific period to contest estate planning documents and court filings are required. Or, there might be an immediate event that will harm the beneficiaries of an estate. It is not [...]

2021-04-06T16:31:57+00:00Tags: , |

Navigating the Rule Against Perpetuities

The rule against perpetuities allows individuals preparing wills to have control over their assets even after they pass on. There are limits to these powers, however. A person can restrict property from being sold or make sure that it is used for a certain purpose. Property can be passed on to family members as long as it is done on the condition that an individual maintains certain requirements or behaviors. The time limit on the ability to pass on assets is referred to as the rule against perpetuities.  Complex and often confusing, the rule of perpetuities can be utilized at the time of the passing of a testator or heirs. Heirs are classified as “lives in being.” This means that if a child is conceived but not born at the time of the creator’s death, the child will be classified as a life in being. After the last living heir named in a will passes away, the restrictions on property continue in place as desired for a certain period. The idea is that the creator can control his or her assets for a full generation after death. If the rule applies, however, the conditions on the bequest are abandoned and [...]

2021-04-06T16:28:00+00:00Tags: , |

How to Prepare Your Estate Before Speaking With an Attorney

More than 550,000 Americans have passed away as a result of COVID-19. The pandemic continues to take the lives of our family members and loved ones. While many people avoid discussing the painful subject of death, things can get complicated if a loved one dies without either a will in place. If you want your estate managed by someone you trust and who will have the best interest of your beneficiaries in mind, you should create a will. Fortunately, many tools exist to create your estate plans before you even speak to an estate planning attorney; the following are some of the first steps you should consider taking to make the estate planning process easier.  Collect the Appropriate Information If you own a home, you will need to collect a copy of your deed and mortgage (if you have one). You should also gather a list of your assets and note whether they are owned jointly with anyone else. It is also a good idea to list any debts and taxes or amounts that your estate will be required to pay out. Some other details to gather include potential beneficiaries, minor children who might be impacted by your estate plan [...]

2021-04-06T16:22:31+00:00Tags: |

Three Pieces of Advice About Organ Donation and Estate Planning

In February 2020, a bill referred to as “Griffin’s Law” passed the Montana Senate 49-0. Even though Montana has no transplant centers of its own, it is still hoped that if the regulation is passed into law it will help to draw attention to the issue of donation discrimination. Provided that the bill passes the house and is signed by the governor, Montana is slated to become the 17th state to prohibit such discrimination.  With over 100,000 individuals on the waiting list for organs in the country, medical professionals often must make difficult decisions about which patients are most likely to benefit from transplants. One 2019 report reveals that individuals with intellectual or neurodevelopmental disabilities are more likely to have co-occurring conditions that could make transplants dangerous. Other people believe that these patients might not be able to comply with post-transplant requirements. In addition to the new regulation, the transplant surgeons’ society also recently adopted a new statement supporting nondiscrimination and encouraging transplant centers to find a way to support all patients. While the issue of transplant discrimination is one of the biggest challenges facing the transplant industry today, many people still wrestle with the idea of how to approach [...]

Five Factors That Influence Whether You Sell Your Business

One of the most attractive aspects of being an American is the opportunity to start a great company and then sell it for enough money that neither you nor the ones you love and care about will ever have to worry about financial issues again. Most people agree that it is a better idea and a more rewarding process to create a successful business than it is to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Regardless of how you view things, there may come a time when you wish to sell your business. If this is the case, adequate planning and estate plan implementation can make sure that you sell at exactly the right time and in a manner that makes the most out of the sale. The following are some important issues to consider if you are debating whether to sell your company as part of your estate plan.  Consider Whether You are Maximizing Your Estate Planning Options If you are debating selling your business, one of the best places to begin is by reviewing your existing estate plan in regards to whether or not you are maximizing your estate planning options. Several estate planning tools including [...]

Three Reasons to Discuss Your Estate Plan With Your Children

Many people hesitate to discuss their estate plans with their children. Even though it might not be easy to have these conversations, a great amount of assets will be transferred from the older generation to the current one within the next few decades. Given the inevitability of this transfer, being transparent with the future generation about your assets and estate plans can make it much easier to make sure that these goals are achieved.  Despite the value of such conversations, one study found that 43% of parents have reported not having a detailed discussion about long-term care plans with their adult children. It is important for all parents to have this critical conversation; the following are the most important reasons why you should consider discussing your estate plan with your children. Assets are Transferred in the Way You Want Many people remember to create estate plans, but then fail to discuss the terms of these plans with loved ones. As a result, they never make sure that their loved ones are comfortable with the plan. By engaging in estate planning conversations, you can review each participant’s role as well as their responsibilities. Minimizing Unnecessary Expenses Children often do not have [...]

2021-03-19T19:34:14+00:00Tags: |