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    Estate & Probate » Blog » Why You Should be Cautious About the Use of “Personal Property” in Estate Planning

    Why You Should be Cautious About the Use of “Personal Property” in Estate Planning

    Various estate planning terms have taken on specific meanings. There is no helpful definition of “personal property” in Oklahoma besides §68-2807, which states that personal property includes anything except real property like lands and buildings. 

    In deciding about what constitutes personal property, Oklahoma courts tend to analyze the language used in an estate planning document when deciding whether what constitutes personal property. Sometimes, however, courts also rely on a person’s intent when making a personal property determination. This article reviews some additional factors that courts are likely to consider when deciding what constitutes personal property.

    Whether an Estate Plan Was Drafted by a Lawyer

    If you relied on an attorney to create your estate plan, courts will rely on a more traditional meaning of personal property. This is because courts assume that estate planning lawyers have a complex understanding of Oklahoma law. In cases where a person created an estate plan on their own, however, courts will be less likely to construe such an extensive definition.

    Whether an Estate Plan Contains a Residue Clause

    Many estate plans include specific gifts, which can be either particular items or a certain amount of money that a person would like to pass on to a beneficiary. Once specific gifts are made, residue clauses address everything else. While some residue clauses leave an individual’s assets to just one person, sometimes residue clauses divide the residue among people. 

    If an estate planning document does not contain a residue clause but does contain a clause making gifts of all of a person’s personal property, Oklahoma courts often view this gift as broader than if a residue clause had not been involved at all. Residue clauses, however, are just one of the critical terms that should be included in many estate planning documents. There is a risk, however, that if you attempt to create an estate plan on your own that you might fail to include this term. Consequently, more uncertainty is likely to arise about how you would like to pass on your assets.

    The Nature of the Gift

    Even in situations in which an estate plan includes a residuary clause, courts have restricted the meaning of personal belongings in certain situations. For example, courts might consider whether a personal belonging is a gift or part of the residue of an estate. As has already been suggested, one of the best ways to make sure that assets are passed on to your loved one is to be specific while you engage in estate planning. Many people discover that skilled attorneys can help make sure their desires are achieved.

    Contact an Oklahoma Estate Planning Lawyer Today

    In short, there is no singular definition of personal property. As a result, courts often evaluate a person’s intent when deciding what meets this definition. One of the ways around this problem is to write the best estate planning documents. Contact knowledgeable estate planning attorney Jim A Lyon today to schedule a free case evaluation.

    Ethan Moran
    Ethan Moran
    09:36 28 Dec 22
    To my wife and I, our probate case was complicated. Not to Jim! He made it look so easy, and his attention to detail is incredible. Highly recommend to anyone seeking an estate planning lawyer.
    Philippe Joshua
    Philippe Joshua
    17:56 30 Nov 22
    Jim's firm was referred to me by a friend who knew I was looking for an estate planning lawyer. I can't say enough good stuff about him. He's genuine, thorough and highly skilled. Strongly recommend.
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    Estate & Probate » Blog » Why You Should be Cautious About the Use of “Personal Property” in Estate Planning