estate plan

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     Read More

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The 2020 Presidential Election and Your Estate Plan

In 2020, many people had various parts of their lives changed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. With the United States presidential election scheduled for November 3 of this year, many of us are about to have our lives changed even more. As we anticipate this event, it is critical to review the terms of your estate plan. After all, estate plans should be reviewed periodically to make sure that the plan is capable of achieving your estate goals in a way that reflects existing laws. If you have not yet written your estate plan but are preparing to do so, you should create your estate plan in consideration of these potential changes. While there is no saying how the election will unfold, you can take the time now to make sure your estate plan accurately reflects any necessary changes.   How the 2020 Election Could Change Things   If the Republican Party prevails in the election, the party has proposed few changes and will instead maintain existing estate planning taxes as they are under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts. In contrast, if the Democratic party prevails in the election, they have proposed several critical changes to     Read More

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Three Things to Know About Oklahoma Spendthrift Trusts

A spendthrift trust refers to a type of trust that lets beneficiaries inherit money without the ability to decide how the money is spent. These trusts are particularly helpful when an heir lacks the responsibility necessary to manage assets. Instead, these trusts grant the authority to determine how assets are spent to an independent trustee, who makes all decisions about how funds should be used for a recipient’s benefit. Because spendthrift trusts play an important but complex role, this article reviews three things to understand about the way in which these trusts operate.   How Spendthrift Trusts Work   These trusts prohibit beneficiaries from borrowing or spending against trust funds. The trusts are also created to prevent creditors from seizing any assets in the trust to pay debts owed by the beneficiary. To be effective, a spendthrift trust must contain precise language. Oklahoma as well as many other states recognize spendthrift trusts.    The Reasons Why People Create Spendthrift Trusts   There are several reasons why people create spendthrift trusts, but some of the most common advantages include:   Creating a trust is a powerful way to make sure that your beneficiaries receive adequate care and protection even if you     Read More

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Critical Steps to Take After the Death of a Loved One

While we hopefully can all weather the COVID-19 pandemic safely, the truth is that some Oklahomans will pass away as a result of the virus. Losing a loved one is an overwhelming and challenging process. Rather than focus on administering an estate, you should instead focus on you and your loved ones coping and safely weathering the loss. The following outlines some helpful steps to take after losing a loved one.   Focus on Yourself and Your Family   There can be an overwhelming number of odd tasks to tackle after the loss of a loved one ranging from putting things in boxes to filling out paperwork. Rather than let yourself get overwhelmed with all there is to do, try to focus on what is essential during this difficult time. This means making sure that you take adequate care of not just your health, but also your family members.   Avoid Making Sudden Decisions   Following the loss of a loved one, many people find themselves overcome with difficult emotions and struggling to think clearly. To avoid making any undesirable mistakes during this difficult time, it is critical that you avoid making any sudden major decisions.   Understand Power of     Read More

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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     Read More

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Think Twice About Adding a Beneficiary to Your Deed

One of the critical reasons to engage in estate planning is that the upfront costs to establish the proper estate planning strategies often cost much less than the trouble that can arise if a person does not create a proper plan. One of the most costly types of estate planning errors involves the methods that a person utilizes to convey property to loved ones following death or incapacity.    A unique challenge presented by many individuals currently engaged in the estate planning process is that they have been in their “home” or property for many years, during which time the worth of the estate has increased substantially. Consequently, a transfer of the property creates long term gain complications, which means that listing a beneficiary on a property deed is often not the best type of estate planning strategy.    The Challenge Presented by Listing Beneficiaries   Most people list beneficiaries on various estate planning documents including life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and trusts. Consequently, these individuals often make the mistake of thinking that it will present little harm to name a beneficiary on a deed. Even if a person is aware of the risk presented by transferring property in this     Read More

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Four Ways to Make Charitable Giving Part of Your Estate Plan

Whether it is honoring a loved one or paying tribute to an important cause, people create trusts for various reasons. Despite its often noble goals, charitable giving also creates some substantial tax issues. While many people who decide to pass on assets to charities do not view tax implications as a high concern, it is still a good idea to reduce taxes so you can pass on the greatest amount of assets possible. The following reviews five powerful ways that you can incorporate charitable giving into your estate plan. Utilize a Charitable Remainder Trust Charitable remainder trusts are a great way to pass on your assets. Under the terms of this trust, an appointed party will receive annual payments from the trust for a period of time. When the beneficiary’s interest in the trust ends, the remaining amount is passed on to a designated charity. These trusts meet specific requirements. Among others, the charity must receive a percentage from the trust when it is initially funded. To make sure the trust meets requirements, the assistance of a skilled estate planning attorney is also often essential. Pass on Assets Through Your Revocable Trust or Will The direct and simple way to     Read More

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SECURE Act Results in Major Estate Planning Changes

In December 2019, President Trump signed a two-part bill that funds the federal government through 2020. Among the many parts of this bill is the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act. The SECURE Act results in major changes to rules related to individual and employer-sponsored retirement accounts and will likely result in many estate plans being substantially altered to incorporate retirement accounts. This article reviews some of the biggest changes that you should understand about the SECURE Act and how it might impact your existing estate plans. # 1 - Required Minimum Distribution Now Begin at 72 Before the SECURE Act, traditional IRAs and employer-sponsored plans were subject to Required Minimum Distribution Rules. Distributions from these plans often must begin by April 1 of the year after either the participant turns 70 and a half or the year in which the participant retires. Under the SECURE Act, distributions must be made after the participant turns 72 provided the individual has not reached the age of 70 and a half by December 31, 2019. This change allows people who do not require funds from their IRAs or retirement accounts to achieve an additional period of tax-deferred growth. #     Read More

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Second Marriages and Estate Planning

Grey divorce refers to the end of marriages of people in their 50s and 60s. While it is true that the overall divorce rate in the United States has declined, the rate of divorce among this segment of the population is increasing. Another large group of older individuals is also finding love a second time around and getting remarried. If you are among the people getting divorced or remarried later in life, it is a wise idea to review your estate planning documents and make sure that they will still help you to achieve your goals.  The following will review some important factors that you should consider to ensure that your estate plan will provide for your loved ones. As you begin to structure your estate plan around your new marriage, it is a wise idea to remember that this type of estate planning is not done to be unromantic, but rather to reduce the risk that your estate ends up administered in a way that you do not desire. Trusts can Play a Valuable Role in Second Marriages If you want to both protect your assets and make sure that these valuables ultimately pass on to your loved ones,     Read More

How Life Insurance can Help After a Divorce

A large number of marriages do not last. Not only is the ensuing divorce process emotionally challenging, but it also introduces many stressful challenges. One often overlooked complication that many people must navigate during this time involves estate planning. One particularly helpful strategy that can be utilized during this time is obtaining life insurance. The following will take a brief look at some of the benefits that people realize through the use of life insurance during this difficult time. Provide Funds for the Divorce Process If a divorce involves hostile partners or includes child custody issues, the process can take an extended time. During this time, it is common to incur several fees. If you have an established life insurance policy, it is possible to take withdrawals or loans from the policy’s cash value to pay for these expenses. If the policy is designed effectively, clients will not be required to liquidate other assets or pull money from an estate that would have been passed on to beneficiaries.  Protect Your Income After a Divorce It is common to discover that your income substantially changes after a divorce. To help the lower-earning spouse transition to life after divorce, courts award alimony     Read More

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