Estate Planning

Deciding When to Proceed to Court During Estate Contests

During estate contests, family members often end up mad at one another. In these situations, a common question asked by family members is, “When is the right time to proceed to court?” Surprisingly, the answer to this question is often that only when everything else has failed and no other options exist is it a good idea to proceed to court. Instead, there are many other attractive and easier options to resolve estate issues. What Types of Claims are Common in Contested Estates? It is common for estate contests to involve various types of claims. Some of the most common claims brought up during estate disputes include: Actions for the accounting of a trust or estate  Actions for the removal of an executor trustee due to mismanagement of an estate or failure to make adequate distributions  Estate planning documents are invalid due to lack of capacity or undue influence Guardians of an incapacitated individual There are some situations where going to court is either required or necessary. There is a specific period to contest estate planning documents and court filings are required. Or, there might be an immediate event that will harm the beneficiaries of an estate. It is not [...]

2021-04-06T16:31:57+00:00Tags: , |

Navigating the Rule Against Perpetuities

The rule against perpetuities allows individuals preparing wills to have control over their assets even after they pass on. There are limits to these powers, however. A person can restrict property from being sold or make sure that it is used for a certain purpose. Property can be passed on to family members as long as it is done on the condition that an individual maintains certain requirements or behaviors. The time limit on the ability to pass on assets is referred to as the rule against perpetuities.  Complex and often confusing, the rule of perpetuities can be utilized at the time of the passing of a testator or heirs. Heirs are classified as “lives in being.” This means that if a child is conceived but not born at the time of the creator’s death, the child will be classified as a life in being. After the last living heir named in a will passes away, the restrictions on property continue in place as desired for a certain period. The idea is that the creator can control his or her assets for a full generation after death. If the rule applies, however, the conditions on the bequest are abandoned and [...]

2021-04-06T16:28:00+00:00Tags: , |

How to Prepare Your Estate Before Speaking With an Attorney

More than 550,000 Americans have passed away as a result of COVID-19. The pandemic continues to take the lives of our family members and loved ones. While many people avoid discussing the painful subject of death, things can get complicated if a loved one dies without either a will in place. If you want your estate managed by someone you trust and who will have the best interest of your beneficiaries in mind, you should create a will. Fortunately, many tools exist to create your estate plans before you even speak to an estate planning attorney; the following are some of the first steps you should consider taking to make the estate planning process easier.  Collect the Appropriate Information If you own a home, you will need to collect a copy of your deed and mortgage (if you have one). You should also gather a list of your assets and note whether they are owned jointly with anyone else. It is also a good idea to list any debts and taxes or amounts that your estate will be required to pay out. Some other details to gather include potential beneficiaries, minor children who might be impacted by your estate plan [...]

2021-04-06T16:22:31+00:00Tags: |

Three Pieces of Advice About Organ Donation and Estate Planning

In February 2020, a bill referred to as “Griffin’s Law” passed the Montana Senate 49-0. Even though Montana has no transplant centers of its own, it is still hoped that if the regulation is passed into law it will help to draw attention to the issue of donation discrimination. Provided that the bill passes the house and is signed by the governor, Montana is slated to become the 17th state to prohibit such discrimination.  With over 100,000 individuals on the waiting list for organs in the country, medical professionals often must make difficult decisions about which patients are most likely to benefit from transplants. One 2019 report reveals that individuals with intellectual or neurodevelopmental disabilities are more likely to have co-occurring conditions that could make transplants dangerous. Other people believe that these patients might not be able to comply with post-transplant requirements. In addition to the new regulation, the transplant surgeons’ society also recently adopted a new statement supporting nondiscrimination and encouraging transplant centers to find a way to support all patients. While the issue of transplant discrimination is one of the biggest challenges facing the transplant industry today, many people still wrestle with the idea of how to approach [...]

Five Factors That Influence Whether You Sell Your Business

One of the most attractive aspects of being an American is the opportunity to start a great company and then sell it for enough money that neither you nor the ones you love and care about will ever have to worry about financial issues again. Most people agree that it is a better idea and a more rewarding process to create a successful business than it is to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Regardless of how you view things, there may come a time when you wish to sell your business. If this is the case, adequate planning and estate plan implementation can make sure that you sell at exactly the right time and in a manner that makes the most out of the sale. The following are some important issues to consider if you are debating whether to sell your company as part of your estate plan.  Consider Whether You are Maximizing Your Estate Planning Options If you are debating selling your business, one of the best places to begin is by reviewing your existing estate plan in regards to whether or not you are maximizing your estate planning options. Several estate planning tools including [...]

Three Reasons to Discuss Your Estate Plan With Your Children

Many people hesitate to discuss their estate plans with their children. Even though it might not be easy to have these conversations, a great amount of assets will be transferred from the older generation to the current one within the next few decades. Given the inevitability of this transfer, being transparent with the future generation about your assets and estate plans can make it much easier to make sure that these goals are achieved.  Despite the value of such conversations, one study found that 43% of parents have reported not having a detailed discussion about long-term care plans with their adult children. It is important for all parents to have this critical conversation; the following are the most important reasons why you should consider discussing your estate plan with your children. Assets are Transferred in the Way You Want Many people remember to create estate plans, but then fail to discuss the terms of these plans with loved ones. As a result, they never make sure that their loved ones are comfortable with the plan. By engaging in estate planning conversations, you can review each participant’s role as well as their responsibilities. Minimizing Unnecessary Expenses Children often do not have [...]

2021-03-19T19:34:14+00:00Tags: |

Critical Details About Oklahoma Transfer on Death Deeds

Transfer on death deeds should never be used as substitutes as wills. These documents can play an invaluable role in your Oklahoma estate plan, however, because transfer on death deeds let a property avoid probate, among other advantageous features. While many people are familiar with wills and he role that they play in estate plans, people are often confused about transfer on death deeds and how they function. How Do Transfer on Death Deeds Work? Transfer on death deeds let a person transfer ownership in a piece of real estate to someone else at the time of the property owner’s death. The beneficiary of a transfer on death deed is similar to the beneficiary of a will. A person can name a single individual or multiple people to inherit property through a transfer on death deed. Transfer on death deeds are revocable and a person can change the terms of a deed or even fully revoke it before the individual dies. A person must make sure to revoke a transfer on death deed in the same manner that the document was created. Reasons to Think Twice About Transfer on Death Deeds While transfer on death deeds are easy to create [...]

2021-02-26T17:02:25+00:00Tags: , |

529 Plans and Oklahoma Estate Planning

One of the most commonly discussed issues when it comes to planning for college is how families will pay tuition. The U.S. News & World Report has found that the average annual tuition and fees at colleges from 2020 to 2021 was $21,184 for out-of-state public colleges and $35,087 for private colleges. Due to these substantial costs, it is understandable that some people decide to make paying for college part of their estate plans. Some people decide to pay for college by contributing to 529 plans. These plans often prove financially advantageous because money contributed to them grows tax-free, provided these assets are used for qualified education expenses. Limits exist, however, to the amount that can be set aside for each beneficiary. To better prepare you for utilizing a 529 plan as part of your estate planning strategy, the following reviews some crucial details about these plans. 529 Plans Can Reduce Your Taxable Estate Contributions to 529 plans are viewed as completed gifts from a donor to a beneficiary. Many times, the donor also holds the account and manages funds for the beneficiary. Later, when the account owner passes away, the account is often not included in the deceased individual’s [...]

2021-02-26T15:47:13+00:00Tags: , , , |

Making the Most of Federal Estate and Gift Exemptions

As of January 2021, a person in the United States is permitted to pass on $11.7 million and a married couple can distribute $23.4 million without being subject to any estate or gift taxes. A sunset clause written into the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 as well as the results of the 2020 elections, however, place this amount in danger of being substantially reduced.  If financial circumstances justify utilizing this exemption, you should consider taking these actions now so you do not end up facing substantial estate taxes on your assets in the future. The Risk that These Exemptions Will Disappear These current exemptions are in danger of going away both due to exiting tax law as well as the aftermath of the 2020 elections. Not only is it critical for those impacted by these exemptions to understand they will go away, but it is also necessary to perform adequate estate planning. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which was passed in the final days of 2017 increased the exemption from $5 to $10 million.  The Act contains a sunset provision, as well. Provided that no actions are taken to extend the length of or keep this exemption, [...]

2021-02-08T17:58:09+00:00Tags: , , , |

Three Things to Remember About Accessing a Deceased Person’s Digital Accounts

We have all become more reliant on digital living. We use the internet for things like banking, communication, storage, taxes, and many other critical aspects of our lives. Unfortunately, if a loved one dies without adequate planning, accessing the digital assets of a loved one after they have passed away can be fraught with difficulties. The introduction of new cybersecurity methods like fingerprint technology has resulted in even more difficulties in accessing deceased loved ones’ digital accounts. Effective January 2021, the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act helps address frequent challenges encountered by fiduciaries in accessing a deceased person’s accounts. The following is some helpful information for those trying to access their loved ones’ digital assets after death.  Follow Some General Steps Different digital accounts have different requirements, but that there are some general guidelines that you can follow to prepare to access this information. Some of these helpful steps include: Contact either the county clerk or state office where the loved one died so you can obtain a copy of that person’s death record. Sometimes, a fee is required. Check the access rules of the digital site that you plan on accessing. Many digital services have automated [...]