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Oklahoma City Legal Blog

You are Never Too Young to Start Estate Planning 

Most people between their 20s to 40s think that they have their entire lives ahead of them. For this reason, most younger individuals do not engage in estate planning. Sadly, many older individuals hesitate to put together their estate plans. No matter how old you are, though, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain from putting together a solid estate plan.  There are several good reasons why a younger person should have an estate plan in place that includes an advance health care directive, a durable power of attorney, and a will and last testament, for starters. In the hopes of convincing younger individuals to engage in estate planning sooner, the following are some of the tricky situations that can be avoided by adequately planning for the future today.  The Capacity to Choose One of the most common reasons why people decline to create a will is that they believe they do not have enough assets to justify needing a will and last testament in order to pass them on. Another common reason why people decline to create an estate plan is they are not married and do not have kids, so they believe it is not important [...]

2021-07-23T15:18:30+00:00Tags: |

Estate Planning Challenges That Come With Cohabitation

Cohabitation without marriage has become an increasingly common way of life for people in the United States. For older individuals, cohabitation is often intended to be a way to enjoy the companionship of another without risking losing assets for the future generation. While attempting to preserve assets, however, cohabiting couples frequently overlook common pitfalls when putting together their estate plans. The following are some estate planning challenges that go hand-in-hand with cohabitation.  Challenges Involving Medicaid Cohabitation does not offer the same protections under Medicaid rules as marriage. Under Medicaid rules, a person must have less than $2,000 in resources to qualify for Medicaid. Some exceptions, however, exist to this rule which permit the protection of assets. One exception to this limit involves community spouses. When a person is institutionalized at a facility, the spouse who still resides at home cannot end up destitute. Substantial allowances are permitted for community spouses. Community spouse exemptions do not include unmarried partners who lived together. Allowances are only for spouses.  Lack of Legal Protection When a cohabiting person passes away, no legal system exists to protect the surviving cohabitor as if they were a surviving spouse. After all, when a married person passes away, [...]

2021-07-23T15:10:47+00:00Tags: , |

Challenges With Naming Minors as Beneficiaries

It is a natural impulse to want to name children, grandchildren, or other descendants to inherit a portion of assets in your estate plan. The naming of a minor beneficiary directly on an account, however, can create unforeseen challenges with your estate plan. The following reviews some helpful reminders about naming minors as beneficiaries as well as why you might want to consider other options. Unintended Consequences Might Ruin Your Plans Clients often assume that their estate plan is complete after they have signed their will and trust. These clients will often then proceed to name the same beneficiary on all of their estate planning documents. If you name a minor as a beneficiary, some substantial and undesirable situations might occur. For example, assets might require the appointment of a conservator, which can lead to a time-consuming and costly process.  The person appointed by the court to act in such a role also might not be the same individual that you would want controlling your assets. Additionally, many jurisdictions require an inventory as well as annual accountancy to be filed with the court even if the conservator is a parent of the minor. Assets held in a conservatorship then pass [...]

2021-06-18T00:54:50+00:00Tags: |

Avoid These Common Estate Planning Mistakes

Sometimes, estate planning is simple. More often than not, however, estate planning is a complex process with significant complications. Regardless of the complexity behind your estate plan, it is a good idea to review your goals and make sure that you have adequate documents in place. There are some common (and potentially costly) errors that everyone should avoid during the estate planning process because they can jeopardizing your goals. Appointing a Loved One as an Executor An executor is the person responsible for administering your estate after you have passed away. While it can be tempting to name a friend or family member as an executor, you must appoint someone who can perform this role satisfactorily and reliably. Many times, people close to us are too overcome with grief to appropriately focus on the task at hand. Conflicts can also arise among friends and family members when one of them is asked to function as executor. Listening to Family and Friends You should make sure that the person with whom you discuss your estate planning goals is an expert in the area. Many people, however, are influenced by the advice they receive from family or friends on how to structure [...]

2021-06-14T15:18:46+00:00Tags: |

Appreciating the Nature of Fiduciary Litigation

It can be challenging to decide when to retain the assistance of a lawyer when navigating estate planning issues. The following are some important details about the fiduciary litigation process. If you have questions about fiduciaries or estate planning, reach out to an experienced attorney today.  The Role of Fiduciaries A fiduciary refers to an individual or entity in whom another person places trust to act in their best interest. A fiduciary is a person tasked with caring for the financial assets of another person. Some of the primary types of fiduciary relationships include relationships created by statutes like estate administration, relationships that are formed as the result of contracts, and relationships arising from underlying circumstances between parties, and the nature of the transaction at issue.  Some of the most common types of fiduciaries include trustees, personal representatives, and court-appointed guardians. Fiduciaries can owe different duties based on the nature of the fiduciary relationship including a duty of good faith, a duty of impartiality, a duty of loyalty, and a duty to maintain adequate records. Common Fiduciary Roles in Estate Planning Some of the most common types of fiduciary roles in estate planning include: Agents. An agent under a durable [...]

2021-05-28T18:00:42+00:00Tags: , , |

What You Should Know About Family Advancement Sustainability Trusts

Many people create estate plans to achieve certain financial objectives, but it is just as important to make sure that estate plans can satisfy “softer” goals. Because a person spends a life acquiring their wealth, it is a good idea to inform children as well as other loved ones about how to manage assets responsibly. You might also decide to utilize an estate plan to promote shared values and encourage giving back to the community. One of the best ways to satisfy these goals is to utilize a family advancement sustainability trust.  Family advancement sustainability trusts are created in states that permit “dynasty” trusts that benefit several generations and which have directed trust statutes that make it possible to appoint either an advisor or committee to direct a trustee. A directed trust statute makes it possible for both family members and trusted advisors to participate in both the governance and management of a trust. Common Structures for These Trusts A common structure for one of these trusts includes four entities with the ability to make decisions including an administrative trustee, an investment committee, a distribution committee, and a trust protector committee. These trusts can also help to create a leadership [...]

Three Reasons to Think Twice About Durable Power of Attorney and Medicaid Planning

A durable power of attorney refers to a legal arrangement that is frequently used to deal with a person’s incapacity. While it is often a grim subject to address the prospect of a person’s eventual incapacity, failure to create the appropriate estate planning documents can later result in additional undesirable complications.  Incapacity can be caused by countless factors. For example, Alzheimer’s Disease impacts a large number of older adults. Data shows that approximately 45% of people who are 85 years old or older and suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, which can, in turn, lead to dementia. While some people think that living to an advanced age is unlikely, data shows that a continuing number of people are reaching old age. The Census Bureau reports that the oldest segment of the population in the United States is also the fastest-growing portion of the country. Understandably, many people see the value in creating a power of attorney to deal with potential issues that could arise involving incapacity. New York state even provides statutory power of attorney forms in the hopes that this can speed up the process. This form is legally valid and if completed properly will give another individual certain powers to [...]

2021-05-23T18:06:34+00:00Tags: , , |

Six Non-Financial Assets to Include in Your Estate Plan

Most estate planning lawyers are capable of doing an excellent job creating an estate plan to address the transfer of financial assets. It is often the case, however, that not enough thought is given to intangibles, which do not have an exact financial price and are often worth much more for their emotional value than their financial value. In these situations, it is critical to consider non-financial assets in your estate plan. Your Public Presence Your public presence is how the world views you and includes things like your reputation, how you are received in the media, and any public content like books that you might have written. A correctly handled public presence can result in increased business opportunities, while an improperly handled public presence can hobble future growth. If you are involved with passing on a family company, brand, or other public legacy, proper planning will make a substantial difference in the future of its reputation.  Family Heritage Family plays a powerful role in defining our identities and our values. Performing some research into your family history can prove incredibly valuable. You might wish to pass on photographs and details about important events in your family’s history to make [...]

2021-05-23T17:59:58+00:00Tags: , |

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: , |