Estate Planning

What to Do When a Primary Beneficiary Passes Away 

A detailed and thorough estate plan is essential in protecting your loved ones and ensuring their peace of mind after your passing. Estate plans, among other advantages, can provide your loved ones with financial assets, which can help them navigate life after you are no longer around. When you create an estate plan, the assumption is that the people you appoint as beneficiaries will outlive you. Unfortunately, tragic unforeseen events can happen, and your beneficiaries may not survive you. When it comes to considering what will happen in this situation, one of the most common questions that people ask is who will inherit the asset if the beneficiary is no longer alive.  The Role of Beneficiary The term ‘beneficiary’ refers to anyone whom the creator of an estate plan has appointed in their estate plan who will receive an inheritance from the creator following the creator’s death. Beneficiaries play a critical role in estate plans and many types of estate plans are not considered valid unless a beneficiary is appointed. While some people think beneficiaries are only people, they can also include organizations and other entities.  Not all beneficiaries are the same. Primary beneficiaries refer to individuals who have the [...]

2021-11-19T01:31:43+00:00Tags: , |

Reasons Why You Should Review Your Estate Plan This Year

Estate plans are intended to evolve as major events occur like births, deaths, and divorce. You should not think of the terms of your estate plan as written in stone. Instead, you should plan to review and revise your estate plan every few years. You should also make sure to examine your estate planning document after major life events occur. The following are some important questions you should ask yourself when you perform your regular estate plan review.  Potential Changes to Estate Distribution Plans Various events including the birth and death of loved ones can end up shaping how you would like to pass on assets. While reviewing your estate, one of the best places to begin is to ask yourself whether your estate plan still effectively passed on your assets in a way that conforms with your wishes. If you got divorced or married, you should make sure that your estate plan fully considers your new spouse.  If you have had children since you last revised your estate plan, you should consider how you would like to pass on assets to your children. Or, if your children have had children since the time you last wrote your estate plan, [...]

2021-11-19T01:20:19+00:00Tags: |

Guarding Business Assets Against Creditors 

If you own a business, you have likely spent countless hours working to achieve your dreams. You understandably want to do everything possible to avoid having creditors seize your assets, particularly before you transfer these assets to the next generation. Fortunately, several options can be utilized to protect your assets. Before discussing these strategies, you should appreciate that asset protection plays a critical role in protecting your estate from creditors as well as many types of lawsuits. Regardless of the size of your asset or how careful you are, no one is above facing these actions. You should take proactive steps to create an estate plan before you end up facing legal actions or creditor efforts. The following are some techniques that you might utilize based on your situation.  The Three Types of Business Ownership Based on the structure of your business, you might have sufficient protection from creditors or no protection at all. If you want to fully protect your assets, you should weigh the value of changing your business’s ownership structure. Remember, three primary types of business entities are: C Corporations. These corporations offer limited liability exposure to personal assets owned by the principals. No personal liability under [...]

2021-11-19T01:14:44+00:00Tags: , , |

Oklahoma Eliminates Durable Power of Healthcare Attorney

As a result of legislation passed earlier this year, starting on November 1, 2021, residents of Oklahoma can no longer appoint a durable power of attorney (POA) for healthcare. Due to this legislation, any durable power of healthcare attorney executed before November 1, 2021 should still be viewed as valid, but any durable power of healthcare attorney that is entered into after that date will no longer be viewed as valid under Oklahoma state law. Hospitals and other types of medical facilities in the state will now take into consideration the terms reflected in durable power of healthcare attorney documents but will no longer afford these estate planning documents full consideration when it comes to making decisions. Several hospitals in the state have already requested that the Oklahoma legislature reinstate the durable power of healthcare attorney, however.  A Quick Guide to the Uniform Power of Attorney Act During the 2021 legislative session, House Bill 2548 created the new Oklahoma Uniform Power of Attorney Act, which canceled the provisions of the Uniform Durable Power of Attorney Act that allowed individuals the power to utilize a durable POA for healthcare. HB 2548, however, cancels the power to make healthcare decisions and limits [...]

2021-11-08T15:18:32+00:00Tags: , |

Deciding Whether to Leave Assets to Your Grandchildren

As you age, it is common to think about the financial well-being of your family, including your youngest family members. This might include not just children, but also grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Assets passed on to these family members can then be used to pay for things like college funds or purchasing a first home.  Deciding whether to pass assets on to grandchildren requires weighing several options. Each family is unique, and when it comes to creating an estate plan to benefit your loved ones, you should consider how to tackle your grandchildren’s needs without creating any subsequent legal challenges or tax burdens.  Trusts Can Prove Particularly Helpful If you have one or more grandchildren who are minors, you might decide to pass assets to a trust. You also might then decide to appoint a person or financial entity to manage the trust for you. Trusts can help permit a person to address their wishes.  Assets Need Not be Distributed Equally If you have multiple grandchildren, you can choose between passing on assets in an equal or unequal manner. Some people decide to pass on the same amount of assets to each grandchild to avoid feelings of jealousy or hurt among [...]

2021-10-18T20:46:52+00:00Tags: , , |

Advice on Avoiding Probate

Many people have heard of probate, and those who have heard of the word likely know that they want to avoid it. You also might be uncertain about why you should avoid probate, as well as what probate entails. Unfortunately, if probate is not properly anticipated, it can be unexpectedly costly as well as time-consuming. Here are some reasons why it can prove advantageous to create assets that bypass probate as well as the downside of what the process entails. What Probate Means Probate is the legal process that occurs after someone passes away. Overseen by a court, probate is a multi-step process. The probate process involves establishing in court that a deceased person’s will is valid and then identifying and inventorying the deceased person’s property. Subsequently, property is assessed to determine its value. Afterward, any outstanding debts or taxes are paid off. Lastly, the remaining assets in the deceased person’s estate will be distributed either according to the terms of a will or according to state law if no will exists or a will has not been established as valid. The probate process involves a substantial amount of paperwork as well as the appearances of lawyers.  The purpose of [...]

2021-10-18T20:43:54+00:00Tags: , |

Tips to Reduce the Risk of an Estate Planning Crisis

Regardless of what assets you currently, it is a good idea to consider having some legal documents written to address what will happen when you become incapacitated or pass away. All too often, family members are left in a frantic and undesirable situation after a loved one passes away or has a medical crisis. The following are some helpful steps that you can follow to avoid creating an estate planning crisis for your loved ones. Created a Detailed Trust One of the best ways to avoid family disagreements after your passing is to create a living trust, which is a legal document that appoints a trustee, which is someone who will be responsible for your assets when you pass away or become incapacitated.  If you decide not to create a trust, the chances are much greater that your loved ones will end up in a disagreement about who should be responsible for managing your assets. When these matters must be resolved by a court, it results in additional fees for your estate. Your loved ones will have to wait much longer for a resolution and to collect any assets you have left for them.  If you choose to establish a [...]

2021-10-18T20:39:18+00:00Tags: |

Deciding Whether to Update Your Estate Plan

If your life changes for reasons like death, divorce, marriage, or birth, you should make sure to update your estate plan. Unfortunately, while many people appreciate the importance of updating their estate plans, a large number of people fail to do so. While it is tempting to think of written documents as written in stone, in reality, estate planning is an evolving process. After undergoing several life changes, some people find that the terms of their estate plan have changed so much that they no longer fit the creator’s situation. Reviewing your estate plan every few years is one of the best ways to ensure that your needs and goals are met. Review Distribution Terms To make sure that your asset distributions goals are satisfied, you should review the terms found in your last will and testament or revocable trust. These estate planning documents address how your assets will be distributed at the time that you pass away. As your children age, these provisions might need revision based on the particular facts of each child’s circumstances. For example, one child might have special needs or another child might have a gambling addiction and would have a difficult time preserving assets.  [...]

2021-10-18T20:34:38+00:00Tags: |

What You Need to Know About Qualified State Tuition Plans

If you or a loved one plans on contributing money to the education of a child or grandchild, a qualified state tuition plan is an excellent idea to make the most out of your contribution. Each state has certain plans that address how you can tackle contributions including savings plans and prepaid tuition plans. The Role of Section 529 Saving plans involve tax-sheltered contribution techniques which are permitted under the Internal Revenue Code’s Section 529. These plans receive favorable income tax treatment provided withdrawals are used for permissible reasons. Another attractive feature of 529 plans is that they combine five years of annual exclusion gifts to one year. This ability lets the person who creates the 529 plan give minors an early and significant start toward paying for college.  The contributions to 529 plans must be made in cash. If you select an option to make five years of annual exclusion gifts, you will not be able to make other types of contributions to the plan or any other annual exclusion gifts until another four years have passed.  Oklahoma is just one of many states that permit investors to utilize 529 plans. The Internal Revenue Service also now permits the [...]

2021-10-01T19:53:35+00:00Tags: , |

Not Keeping Estate Plans Current Can Destroy Your Planning Goals

Nearly half of Americans who are over the age of 55 do not have a will. Only 18% of people in this age range have the recommended legacy planning elements, which include advanced health care directives and powers of attorney. While it remains uncertain how many people fail to update their estate plan routinely, this is likely also a large number. Estate planners often must invest a great deal of energy to establish estate and wealth plans that fit a person’s needs and make sure that their estate goals work together. As clients’ situations change, however, they often fail to inform estate planning lawyers so that adequate changes can be made to the corresponding documents.  Life Changes Warrant Updating Your Estate Plan After the births of new family members, deaths of close loved ones, and even after a divorce, the best practice is to update your estate plan. Over time, parents’ relationships with their children will change. Children can also encounter various problems throughout life that alter the way that a parent wants assets to be distributed. Changes in a child’s life can also end up influencing that child’s ability to act as an agent or trustee of a parent’s [...]

2021-10-01T19:49:44+00:00Tags: |