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Critical Ways to Maintain Your Advance Health Care Directive

The pandemic has disrupted many aspects of our daily lives. The pandemic has also resulted in significant changes for estate planning, which includes how people think about advance health care directives. Often, these directives specify the type of medical care that patients would like to or do not want to receive in case they are not able to communicate.  These documents also serve the invaluable role of expressing the specific approach that patients would like towards life-saving measures. Many times, advance directives are used in combination with living wills, which appoint a health care proxy to make decisions in case a person is incapacitated.  The Unpredictable Nature of the Coronavirus Tragically, during the coronavirus pandemic, many people are admitted to the hospital without loved ones present due to concerns about how the disease will spread. The most serious COVID-19 patients are as a result at a significant risk of having their intent overlooked by medical professionals.  Additionally, the trajectory of the virus varies greatly, and often there is not a large window in which to treat a person. By having an advanced healthcare directive in place, however, a person can greatly increase the likelihood that their intent is known.  Assumptions [...]

2020-10-05T17:38:56+00:00Tags: , , |

Making an Estate Planning “Football” During the COVID-19 Pandemic

We often discuss the various types of estate planning documents and their value, but it is just as important to realize that an estate plan does little good if the key people either do not know about the estate plan or are unable to access key documents after a person’s death or incapacity. The need to make sure that your loved ones can quickly access your estate planning documents has become even more important as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates in Oklahoma and the risk grows of people suddenly falling ill or ending up incapacitated. It is a common occurrence after a person unexpectedly passes away or becomes incapacitated that their loved ones must go on a hunt to locate that individual’s estate planning documents. This problem can be avoided by having your estate planning documents current and contained in a specific location.  Some have suggested creating a “nuclear football” during the COVID-19 pandemic, which refers to the briefcase that the President of the United States supposedly uses to authorize a nuclear attack. To avoid leaving your loved ones unable to locate your critical estate planning documents, it is a good idea to create your own version of a nuclear football [...]

2020-07-07T15:56:30+00:00Tags: , , , |

Estate Planning Opportunities Presented by the Coronavirus Pandemic

It would be an understatement to say that our lives have changed as the result of the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the economy. While many people are facing hardships as they plan for what lies ahead, these difficult times have presented some powerful estate planning strategies. This article reviews some unique opportunities presented by the pandemic that can let you make the most of estate and gift taxes.  Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts These trusts are an ideal way to transfer assets that will appreciate in the future to children without facing transfer taxes. As part of these trusts, an individual transfers interests or securities to an irrevocable trust. Following this transfer, a person still has the right to receive trust annual annuity payments. Because the trust creator retains the full value of the transferred property, a gift is often considered to be made that would be subject to a gift tax.  For these trusts to transfer appreciation in the assets to a person’s children or beneficiaries, the rate of return must be greater than 7250 times the rate as of the date that the trust is created. The greater the return, the more appreciation that can be transferred. [...]

2020-05-30T13:04:07+00:00Tags: , |

Four Critical Estate Planning Strategies for Difficult Times

The coronavirus pandemic has left many people curious about what estate planning strategy works. You also might have discovered that some estate planning strategies you once planned on utilizing are no longer the best choice. These difficult times also hopefully prompt people who have not yet engaged in estate planning to create strategies for unexpected incapacity or death, there are also some critical steps that you can take if you already have an estate plan to make sure that you are fully prepared for the future. Review the Terms of Existing Documents To make sure that your estate plan is still capable of achieving your goals, it is critical to review its essential terms. While looking over your estate plan, make sure to ask yourself the important questions: Are the people you designated as personal representatives still the best selections? Have births, deaths, divorce, or marriage impacted your intended beneficiaries? Is the amount that each beneficiary receives as a distribution still appropriate? Are your health care choices still appropriately reflected in your directives? Are the terms of your durable power of attorney still appropriate? Do your loved ones know where to find your estate planning documents? If you decide that [...]

2020-05-24T13:12:22+00:00Tags: , |

Estate Planning Advice During the Coronavirus Pandemic

As Oklahoma begins to loosen its coronavirus restrictions, many people, including those with children, are wondering what they can do to make sure they are adequately prepared if they contract COVID-19 and are left incapacitated. Two substantial issues that parents worry about is who will make financial and medical decisions for them if they are not able to make them for themselves as well as who will take care of their children in case they are left unable to do so.  If you are left incapacitated as a result of the coronavirus or any other condition, your loved ones will need to go court to have a guardian appointed. This was a costly and time-consuming process before the pandemic, and now it is even more challenging. Consequently, it is best to prepare in advance and make sure that you have created several critical estate planning documents that address incapacity. Durable Power of Attorney These documents appoint an agent to help address your financial affairs if you are incapacitated. Rather than wait for the court to appoint a conservatory, an agent appointed through a durable power of attorney has instant access to your financial accounts and can sign your name on [...]

2020-09-10T13:36:07+00:00Tags: , , , |

Estate Planning During a Pandemic

While many of us will follow adequate safety protocols and avoid coronavirus, some people will contract COVID-19 and will ultimately not survive. To prepare for any path that lies ahead, it is a good idea to plan for the chance of incapacity or death through various estate planning documents including wills, powers of attorney, and other vital documents.  While it is easy to delay estate planning because it requires confronting uncomfortable realities, now is the time to engage in planning for whatever may lie ahead. Remember that even if you feel your assets are not substantial enough, having an estate plan is still critical.  The following will review some critical details to remember about the estate planning process.  Signings are Still Possible During Self-Isolation With most people throughout the country currently practicing self-isolation measures, one of the most critical steps in completing any type of advance directive is locating witnesses for estate plans.  Some people have begun utilizing creative efforts to satisfy this witness requirement including having neighbors watching the signing of estate plans from a distance. People have also participated in “drive-by signings,” during which a person waits inside a vehicle with the windows rolled down as law firm [...]

2020-04-24T01:46:03+00:00Tags: , , |

Tips on Estate Planning During Uncertain Times

The COVID-19 outbreak, as well as economic challenges, have caused many people in Oklahoma to consider how they can create effective estate plans. While uncertain times can make estate planning difficult, some powerful strategies can be utilized to make the most out of estate planning anytime.  To hopefully reduce any anxiety you have about the state of the economy and to help achieve your estate planning goals, the following will review some quick but powerful estate planning tips you should consider utilizing. # 1 - Review Your Investment Portfolio It can be uncomfortable to confront your investment portfolio during this difficult time, but these times offer an excellent opportunity to review your assets and determine whether there are creative strategies to take advantage of the current economic situation. For example, some people are utilizing current low-interest rates to pass assets to beneficiaries. # 2 - Review Your Estate Planning Documents It is not enough to have estate planning documents, you should also periodically review them to make sure that the wishes expressed in these tools are still appropriate. Uncertain economic times have the potential to change various asset management strategies and goals, which is why now is a critical time [...]

2020-04-24T01:40:54+00:00Tags: , , |

Updating Your Estate Plan While Quarantined

If you are like many other Americans at the moment, you are likely spending some time in isolation. While you are looking for ways to keep yourself occupied, now is a great time to either create or review your estate plan. Studies show that more than half of the people in the United States do not even have a will. Having a will as well as a few other valuable estate planning documents is one of the best ways to plan for what happens if you ever become incapacitated or pass away. Make Sure You Have a Will Some people think that only the wealthy have “estates,” but in reality, an estate refers to all of the assets that a person owns. A will, or a Last Will and Testament, is created to make sure that your assets are distributed to your loved ones following your death. To be found valid, wills must meet certain requirements. If a person’s assets meet certain monetary thresholds and are passed on through a will, the assets must pass through the probate process, which can be both costly and time-intensive.  While trusts are the best option for many people to pass on assets, some [...]

2020-04-08T14:18:20+00:00Tags: , |