Estate Planning

What are Bypass Trusts?

Establishing an effective estate plan is one of the best ways to make sure that your assets are properly handled following your death. Based on the exact details of your situation, it is worth considering whether a bypass trust would be able to help achieve your goals.  The following will take a brief look at what bypass trusts are as well as some of the benefits that can be taken advantage of through the use of this estate planning tool.  How Bypass Trusts Operate Bypass trusts are legal agreements that offer married couples the opportunity to avoid estate taxes after a spouse passes away. When one spouse passes away, an estate’s assets are divided into two separate trusts. One trust is categorized as marital, while the second is a bypass trust. Marital trusts are revocable and belong to the surviving spouse. The terms of revocable trusts are capable of being changed by the individual who created the trust. Bypass trusts, however, are irrevocable and their terms cannot be changed.  Surviving spouses often act as the trustees of bypass trusts. It is the duty of a trustee to make sure that assets from a couple’s estate are appropriately divided into each     Read More

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Estate Planning Advice for Parents With Older Children

As summer draws to an end and fall approaches, parents with children who are about to attend college face a number of big decisions. While it might be difficult right now to directly acknowledge it, once a child reaches the age of 18, he or she is viewed in the eyes of the law as an adult and the parent loses a great amount of control over the child. For this reason, it is vital that parents of older children ensure that those children have a sufficient estate plan in place.  There is a long-standing myth that younger people do not need estate plans, but in reality, serious accidents involving younger individuals occur all the time. The following will review some of the important types of estate planning documents that your older children might need. Healthcare Powers of Attorney Children who reach the age of 18 should make sure to designate a health care power of attorney, who will appoint an individual to access the child’s medical records in case the child ends up incapacitated. In some situations, these documents also appoint individuals to make healthcare decisions on the incapacitated child’s behalf.  If something happens to a child and he     Read More

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Estate Planning Following a Cancer Diagnosis

A cancer diagnosis will greatly impact every aspect of your life, including finances, insurance coverage, and estate planning. While you may have put your estate plan together prior to receiving a cancer diagnosis, not everyone has done so. If that is the case, the following are some considerations for putting together a plan or altering your existing plan after a cancer diagnosis.  Learn as Much as Possible About What the Future Could Hold Following a cancer diagnosis, many people feel overwhelmed by the amount of information they receive. Despite this, it is important during this difficult time to ask a number of important questions to get a better understanding of your financial future. Once treatment for the cancer begins, many people discover that they have neither the time nor energy to address these issues. Some of the questions that you should ask include how much of your treatment will be covered by insurance and whether a loved one will act as a care manager or whether you will be the one tasked with handling these issues. Provide Your Estate Planning Lawyer With Adequate Details Many of the details involved with a cancer diagnosis can be difficult to share with others.     Read More

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Reasons to Estate Plan Before the End of Your Life

It can be challenging to prepare for the numerous complications that can arise during a person’s life. It is just as important to perform adequate planning for the end of a person’s life. Adequate estate planning is invaluable because it can remove the uncertainty about how a person’s estate will be handled following his or her death.  While many people falsely believe otherwise, estate planning is important for more than just the richest individuals. Instead, estate planning can play a valuable role in the lives of all people, rich or poor. Even if you have a small estate, adequate planning is also still particularly helpful.  To make sure that you fully address the numerous issues concerning estate planning, the following will address some of the important issues you should make sure to consider. Who Will Care for Minor Children Because minor children are unable to make decisions on their own, it is important to appoint a conservator who will make decisions about who will watch over these children in case something happens to you.  The conservator will often be tasked with managing all of the assets that you intend to pass to your children to make sure that these resources     Read More

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Estate Planning Issues When a Loved One Has a Long-Term Illness

No matter if it is arthritis, Alzheimer’s, or multiple sclerosis, long-lasting medical conditions should influence how an estate plan is written. This is an important issue because millions of individuals are living with chronic illnesses.  The following will review some of the important steps that individuals who suffer from chronic conditions should follow when estate planning. The Role of Revocable Trusts A number of estate plans utilize revocable trusts. One of the primary purposes of a revocable trust is to avoid the costs and other challenges that can arise during the probate process.  Many people with chronic medical conditions discover that revocable trusts are a powerful way to plan for the succession of finances. Some individuals with revocable trusts even decide to appoint trust protectors who help to safeguard the trust. The Role of Living Wills A living will is a document that contains a person’s health care wishes, including end-of-life issues. These documents can also reflect a person’s religious beliefs. For individuals with chronic health issues, there are unique considerations involved with living wills including how potential unique complications with a disease should be handled.  There also might be certain courses of treatment that are anticipated when a disease     Read More

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Organ Donations and Oklahoma Estate Plans

One of the commonly used but often overlooked details in estate plans involves organ donation. A growing number of people are interested in stipulating that organ donation be part of their estate plans.  The following will take a brief examination of the organ donation process in Oklahoma and provides answers to some of the most common questions that people ask about the organ donation process. Why People Consider Donating Statistics reveal that each day in the United States, 21 people die waiting for an organ transplant. Organ donation can help friends, loved ones, and even strangers in need live longer and healthier lives.  If you would like to play this valuable role in someone else’s life, it is critical to make sure that these wishes are clearly expressed in your estate planning documents.  Types of Organs That can be Donated It is possible due to medical innovations to now donate either organs and/or tissue.  When it comes to organs, while a person is still alive, he or she can donate one kidney or a section of his or her liver. After a person’s death, it is possible to donate hearts, intestines, kidneys, liver, lungs, and the pancreas.  Some of the     Read More

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How Trusts can Help People Who do Not Have a Lot of Assets

Estate planning is an uncomfortable process. Most people find it difficult to consider how their belongings will be distributed following their death. If you fail to make these choices, however, the alternatives are often much less desirable.  Not only does failure to create an adequate estate plan increase the chances that fighting will occur in your family, unnecessary taxes are also common. These challenges as well as many others can be avoided through the creation of a trust.  Despite this, the myth persists that trusts are only for the extremely wealthy and that they take a great deal of funds upfront to create. In reality, trusts are a powerful tool for most people because they offer the ability to great simplify things after a person’s death.  The Role of Trusts There are a number of different types of trusts that can be made part of a person’s estate plan. The most common type of trust used is a revocable living trust, which lets a person clearly outline how assets in an estate will be administered following that person’s death.  Trusts also let people avoid the probate process, which is the legal process through which a will is declared valid. Many     Read More

Uncomfortable Estate Planning Questions That Must be Answered

For many people, estate planning is an uneasy experience because it requires confronting a number of difficult and uncomfortable questions. By engaging in estate planning, we ultimately must accept that we will one day no longer be here. Some people might also have to accept that one day, an appointed party will make decisions to care for them.    Even though many people understand that estate planning is essential, they hesitate to fully address estate planning issues. The best way to make sure that every element of your estate plan is fully accounted for is to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney. The following are some of the important issues that you should consider when planning your end of life care and distribution of assets.   Who Will Take Care of Your Minor Children if You Die?   Some people hesitate to resolve estate planning issues because they cannot decide whom to name as a guardian of minor children. This creates the risk that if no guardian is appointed, a court will likely be tasked with determining who will care for your children.    Unless you believe that a judge will be able to make a better decision than     Read More

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Tips for Family Business Succession Planning

Statistics compiled by Forbes reveal that approximately 80 to 90% of businesses in the United States are either owned or controlled by families.  Other data reveals that only one third of these businesses survive into the second generation of a family and that only 10% of businesses make it to the third generation.  One of the reasons why businesses are not successfully passed between generations is lack of adequate estate planning. It is important to remember that there is simply no universal estate plan that works for every business, which is why options like online estate planning often does not work.  Instead, it is critical to carefully consider the various ways to pass ownership of a business between family members. Obtain the assistance of an experienced estate planning lawyer who can help guide you in creating the right business succession plan. The following will review some helpful tips that you should remember when creating a strong succession plan for a family-owned business.  Consider Changing the Business Structure If a business is structured as a sole proprietorship or a partnership, it is important to remember that these entities are viewed as comparable to personal assets of the owner and cannot be     Read More

Estate Planning Lessons From Tom Petty and Other Celebrities

One of the most repeated pieces of estate planning advice is to create a will. While the late musician Tom Petty made sure to create a will prior to his death in 2017, there is still an ongoing legal battle concerning the administration of Petty’s estate. Even though Petty established a trust and named his wife as trustee, Petty’s daughters from an earlier marriage claim that Petty’s widow is not providing them with enough control over Petty’s assets. Petty’s daughters have initiated a lawsuit against Tom Petty Unlimited, which is an LLC tasked with managing the musician’s legacy. This dispute is just one of several recent highly-publicized estate battles involving celebrities with similar situations, such as Aretha Franklin and Prince. Because it can be difficult to create a good estate plan, many people find the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney particularly valuable. The following are some valuable lessons that can be gleaned from recent celebrity deaths. Plan for Unanticipated Events There a number of celebrities who pass away with trusts and wills in place, but because they fail to take potential births or deaths into consideration, problems arise after death. For example, the late rapper XXXTenacion failed to     Read More

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