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Oklahoma City Legal Blog

The Role of Transfer on Death Accounts in Oklahoma Estate Plans

Some people find it hard to believe, but it is possible for joint account holders to determine who should receive the assets in an account after the surviving account owner passes away. Accounts referred to as transfer on death accounts (which are also sometimes referred to as payable on death accounts or Totten trusts) allow joint account owners to determine how assets should be passed on after the death of both account holders. Because these types of accounts can play a particularly important role in estate planning, the following will take a brief examination of how these accounts operate. Understanding How Transfer on Death Accounts Operate A person who creates a transfer on death account is responsible for the results of asset transfers from the account. Many people who create transfer on death accounts decide to create the account with language stating that a person indemnifies a bank from any claims if the individual relocates, beneficiary plans go against estate plans, or any other complexity that can interrupt the transfer of assets. The recipient of assets that are placed in a transfer on death account can be a child, a relative other than a spouse, and even a friend. The     Read More

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Common Mistakes Made During the Bankruptcy Process

The bankruptcy process can forever change your life. While many people are capable of realizing positive change through bankruptcy, by making mistakes during the process, some people can end up facing obstacles that last for years. The following will review some common mistakes to avoid when filing for bankruptcy. Not Honestly Disclosing Your Assets Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves a means test, which requires you to disclose all of your assets and income because this amount determines your ability to pay off creditors. If you do not honestly disclose your assets, there is a good chance that your case will be dismissed. In some situations, you might even be prohibited from ever filing for bankruptcy again. Giving Assets to Family Members You are prohibited from giving away any of your assets to friends or relatives with the understanding that they will give the assets back to you at a later date, after your bankruptcy filing is complete. There is a risk that if you attempt to hide assets in such a way, you could end up losing them. Accruing Credit Card Debt Before Filing for Bankruptcy If a creditor determines that you purposefully accrued additional credit card debt in anticipation of     Read More

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Advice on Protecting Foreign Assets in Estate Planning

Today, more so than ever before, we are living in a connected world, with people from Oklahoma working and visiting other states and even other countries. Each year, a large number of people vacation in other countries and some individuals even end up acquiring assets in these foreign countries. Unfortunately, estate planning is much more complex when a person owns assets that are located in another country. For this reason, it is important to understand some of the finer points of estate planning when foreign property is involved. Fully Disclose All of Your Assets It is important to make certain that you disclose all of your assets to your lawyer when creating your estate plan. Some people fail to include information about assets that they own in other countries because they do not think that it influences how their estate will be treated. In reality, an estate planning lawyer must understand all of your assets and where they are located to help to determine the tax repercussions for you and your heirs. The Possibility of Multiple Wills Based on exactly where foreign assets are located, a person might decide to have one or two wills to deal with the transfer     Read More

Home Mortgages and Bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy no longer creates obstacles for a future home buyer. Instead, many mortgage lenders have relaxed requirements so that even individuals who file for bankruptcy are able to obtain a home more quickly than ever before. The following will discuss some available mortgage loans and how they are affected by the bankruptcy process. Federal Housing Authority (FHA) Loans FHA loans are federally-insured loans and are attractive to many because they allow a buyer to put down only 3.5% of the home’s purchase price. The credit score limits for these loans are also much more generous than other types of conventional loans. In many cases following a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a person will be required to wait two years to obtain this type of loan. If a person opens a new credit account after filing for bankruptcy, he or she will often be required to make payments on time to establish a good credit history. Other individuals decide to speed up the qualification process by not opening any credit accounts following bankruptcy. Instead, if a person is able to demonstrate that filing for bankruptcy was beyond his or her control, it is possible to reduce the waiting period to     Read More

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The Advantage of Irrevocable Trusts

While it is true that no two families are the same, it is also true that no two families have the same type of estate planning requirements. Fortunately, many concerns can be adequately addressed by creating proper trust provisions. While there are many different ways to create an adequate estate plan, trusts offer some substantial advantages in comparison to other tools. After the trust’s creator dies, the trust carries on indefinitely. The following will review some of the benefits that people realize through incorporating trusts into their estate plans. Avoid Probate All property that is placed in an irrevocable trust avoids the probate process, which can mean substantial saving in regards to time and expense for individuals. As a result, the use of an irrevocable trust can help to save a substantial amount of time as well as energy that a person would otherwise be required to invest in the probate process. Privacy Any property that passes through a probate estate becomes part of the public record. A trust is capable of keeping the entire transfer process private, which means that these trusts can play an important role in the lives of families who want to maintain a level of     Read More

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Student Loan Scams and Bankruptcy

It is common for students to pay for their education through loans. During the process of attempting to find a loan provider that will lower a student’s monthly loan payments, many students encounter companies offering fraudulent deals. If you have student loan debt, it is critical to be aware of various common refinancing scams. While bankruptcy courts have traditionally not allowed students to discharge student loans through bankruptcy, the landscape has changed significantly over the last few years. If your student loans have led you to pursue bankruptcy, you should not hesitate to speak with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer. Advance Fee Scams Advance fee scams involve companies who claim that they can help you receive the best interest rate and loan terms in exchange for a small fee, which can range from 1% to 5% of your total loan. These offers exist in stark contrast to other types of student loans, which do not require upfront fees. The only type of acceptable fee that comes with student loans is a default fee for federal loans or a disbursement/origination fee associated with private loans. A company that offers to help with your student loan debt should never require an upfront free     Read More

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How Bankruptcy can Affect Children

Many people place the interests of their children above their own. As such, it is common to have concerns about how the bankruptcy process will affect your children. Some relevant questions include whether children will lose property, what happens to a child’s bank account, and whether college loans can still be obtained for the child. While it might be surprising to learn, the bankruptcy process can affect your children in a number of ways. The following will review some of the most common ways in which bankruptcy is known to affect children. How Bankruptcy Affects the Child’s Property While items that were given as gifts to a child are still viewed as household property, property that a child purchased will not be classified this way. The risk of losing property arises in Chapter 7 when individuals navigating bankruptcy are allowed to only keep exempt property. In many cases, however, property belonging to a child is often not of interest to bankruptcy trustees unless the items are exceptionally valuable. Child Bank Accounts and Bankruptcy Money that is held in a child’s bank accounts is not considered property for a bankruptcy estate. Neither a bankruptcy trustee nor creditors are able to obtain     Read More

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Common Types of Estate Planning Errors

While there are many advantages offered by estate planning, the process involves a number of complex issues. Rushing through the estate planning process can lead to errors in important documents, which can significantly disrupt a person’s estate. The following reviews some of the most common and serious estate planning errors that people make. It is always best to rely on the skill and experience of an estate planning attorney when putting together your plans for the future. Using Boilerplate Estate Planning Documents Given the prevalence of online estate planning documents, it can be tempting simply download a cookie-cutter estate planning form online. Not all people, however, need the same type of estate plan. Estate planning is a very individualized process. By using a generic estate planning document, you are at risk of leaving important issues unaddressed or having your estate administered in an undesirable way after your passing. Instead, it is a much better idea to obtain the assistance of an experience estate planning lawyer who can make certain that your end of life plans reflect your wishes. Trying to Avoid the Probate Process Sometimes in attempting to avoid probate, people make gifts to loved ones during their lifetime. The     Read More

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Estate Planning After Divorce

Changes in tax law that were passed at the end of 2017 resulted in a large number of people attempting to finalize their divorces before these laws became effective at the beginning of January, 2019. One substantial change is that under these new tax laws, alimony is no longer deductible by the payor and is no longer taxable for the receiver. These changes have had a substantial impact on both sides of alimony payments following a divorce. There are also, however, a number of other changes that people performing estate planning following a divorce should consider. The following reviews some of the most important changes in the law that will impact your estate planning and your divorce. Updating Health Care Power of Attorney A healthcare power of attorney document allows a person to appoint another person to make healthcare decisions for him or her in case of a coma or other incapacity. If you want to avoid having your former spouse make these types of decisions on your behalf, you need to accurately update your estate planning documents to reflect these changes. You should make sure that you still have a power of attorney document, however. In many cases, people     Read More

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Bankruptcy and Divorce

Divorce is almost always an emotionally challenging process. Many people discover that every aspect of their lives are impacted by divorce more than they ever would have anticipated. If you and your former spouse have decided that divorce is your best option, it is likely that your finances will be affected, and sometimes, bankruptcy becomes a necessity for one or both spouses. Navigating bankruptcy can complicate the divorce process, however. The following will review some important things to consider if you have facing both bankruptcy and divorce. Do Not Simultaneously File for Divorce and Bankruptcy It is often best to not proceed through divorce and bankruptcy at the same time. After filing for bankruptcy, an “automatic stay” is placed on a person’s account, which prevents creditor harassment and freezes a person’s assets and property. If the two overlap, an automatic stay will be placed on a person’s assets and will make it impossible for the divorce court to divide assets. While it is often best to not file for both bankruptcy and divorce at the same time, a person should carefully choose which process to navigate first. If a marriage ends and the former spouses are still friendly with one     Read More

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