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Oklahoma City Legal Blog

Understanding When it is Time to Change Special Needs Plans

One of the greatest mistakes that many people make about special needs plans are thinking that estate planning is a one-and-done process. Even after properly appointing a guardian, trustee, health care proxy, and other necessary agents for a special needs plan, there are still circumstances that can arise and necessitate a change of these documents.    The following will review some important steps to follow to make sure that agent designations on special needs documents are properly updated.   Routinely Review Your Special Needs Plan   It is a wise idea to review your special needs agent appointment on a routine basis. It is also a good idea to stay in constant communication with your special needs agent. This is because changes inevitably occur that will change the appropriateness of your selection. The problem, however, comes in deciding how often you should review your estate planning decisions. Once a year is a reasonable guideline for reviewing these plans.    When to Change Special Need Agents   Even if you routinely review special needs documents, it can be challenging to determine exactly when to replace an agent. You should consider replacing a special needs agent any time after there has been     Read More

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New Parents Need Wills

It is understandable that as a new parent, you want the best possible life for your child. Among the many things that new parents think about, wills are often one of the last. In reality, though, creating a will is an important step to take for your family’s future. The following will review just a few of the important things that new parents need to know about wills. Always Make Sure to Clearly State Your Intentions Wills, as well as other estate planning documents, are best viewed as instruction manuals for your executor and the court to follow after your death. You must clearly express your intentions regarding your wishes, or a New York court will likely interpret how your estate should be administered.  Beneficiaries on Financial Accounts Play an Important Role Most financial accounts allow a person to name a beneficiary. After you pass away, the funds pass to the beneficiary who is named on the account. If you create a will with a child in mind, it is a good idea to review your financial accounts to make sure that you have not named any inconsistent beneficiaries elsewhere. Name an Executor You can Trust To make sure that     Read More

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Answers to Commonly Asked Inheritance Questions

Receiving an inheritance can change a person’s life, so it should come as no surprise that people often have questions about how inheritances are received. The following will provide some details about how inheritances work.   What Happens if You Die Without a Will?   When a person dies without a will, the individuals who inherit from the estate are determined by Oklahoma intestacy law. Many people believe that if a person dies without a will, that individual’s spouse will inherit everything in the estate. Exactly who inherits, however, depends on several critical factors including the value of an estate and how assets are held.    What Happens if the Terms of a Will are Violated?   If a will is valid under Oklahoma law, it must be followed unless doing so would violate another law. If a will is not followed, an interested party can file a petition and raise the issue in front of a probate judge.    What Happens if Someone Misuses Estate Property?   There are probate laws in Oklahoma that create strategies to block an individual from misusing or taking estate property. If you end up in this situation, however, it is important to immediately     Read More

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Estate Planning Strategies for the Modern Family

One of the greatest challenges created in applying estate planning advice to individual situations is that many estate plans assume that a person’s family structure is identical to a conventional one. A lot has changed since the days of Leave It to Beaver, though. Today’s environment much more closely resembles the television show Modern Family with second marriages, same-sex marriages, and multi-generational planning.    Today, approximately only 35% of American families are comprised of traditional heterosexual married individuals with children. The estate planning strategies that all the other families need are very different from what conventional families do. The following will review some of the important estate planning strategies that should be implemented by modern families.    Begin by Understanding   You should begin with estate planning by understanding that non-traditional families are becoming much more common. Some of the issues that you should consider include whether non-marital or adopted children could unintentionally be excluded from your estate plan. You should also consider whether you are leaving individuals out of your estate plan who believe that they should be beneficiaries.    One way to make sure that your estate plans are transferred per your wishes is to carefully select the     Read More

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Five Important Facts about Estate Planning and Taxes in 2019

There are many reasons to review your estate planning documents periodically. One event that should prompt you to pull out your estate planning documents is any revision made to the tax system. If you are reviewing your estate planning documents this year, consider the following tax issues that might impact you and your beneficiaries. Many Tax Exemptions are Only Temporary It is important to remember that several current tax exemptions are merely temporary. While the $11.4 million per individual transfer tax exemption is attractive, it will not last forever. After 2025, this exemption will return to $6 million per individual. This is not the only temporary part of the current tax code, however. It is critical for anyone planning for the future to create flexible estate planning strategies and consider these factors. An experienced estate planning attorney can help ensure that you are on the right track. IRA Beneficiaries If a person inherits an IRA, the distribution requirements depend on whether the beneficiary is a spouse or non-spouse. Spouses have the choice of rolling IRA assets into an inherited IRA or their own IRA accounts. Non-spousal beneficiaries are often required to either withdraw all funds from the IRA within five     Read More

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Adding Religious Beliefs to an Estate Plan

In addition to passing on their assets, many parents would also like to pass on their ethics and spiritual beliefs to their children. Fortunately, a comprehensive estate plan can provide you with the opportunity to achieve these goals.  This article reviews some of the powerful ways that you can add a degree of spirituality to your estate plan. End-of-Life Medical Decisions One of the most common types of estate planning documents is Medical Powers of Attorney, which allow a loved one to make decisions for you in case you become incapacitated. As a result, you can make sure that your appointed agent has religious beliefs that are similar to your own.  Closely related to Medical Powers of Attorney are Living Wills, which allow a person to articulate the type of life-prolonging care that they would like to receive in case life support becomes necessary. Many people discover that their faith has a profound impact on how these documents are written.  These estate planning documents also allow a person to express their opinion about organ donation and religious rites, which are other important spiritual issues.  Burial and Funeral Plans No matter what your spiritual perspective is on death, you can express     Read More

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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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