Estate Planning

Need Help With an Estate Plan?

An Estate Plan can include a Will, Durable Powers of Attorney for health care and finances, an Advance Health Care Directive (sometimes called a Living Will) and possibly a Revocable or Irrevocable Living Trust.

As a full Estate Plan may not be what everyone needs, and I am happy to advise you on alternative planning tools such as Joint Tenancy, Transfer-on-Death Deeds, early gifts, Beneficiary Designations, Limited Liability Companies, and more.

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You can nominate Guardian(s) for minor children by adding a Guardianship Clause in your Last Will and Testament and in your Trust.

Most likely you need a Trust because a Last Will and Testament will not transfer real property to your heirs without a probate.

Your Executor and/or Trustee should be someone who is trustworthy and organized. You may choose to nominate a family member, a professional, or even a corporate trustee.

Minor changes to an Estate Plan can be done via a Trust Amendment or a Codicil to a Last Will and Testament.

LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT

A Last Will and Testament is just one part of a comprehensive estate plan, and probably the most common one. It is imperative that a Last Will and Testament is executed properly and timely updated, when appropriate. If a person dies without a Will, or having an invalid Will, they are said to have died “intestate” and the laws of the State of Oklahoma will determine how and to whom the person’s assets will be distributed.

It is worth mentioning that a Last Will and Testament is a great venue for a Guardianship Clause that would greatly benefit parents of minor children. As children are our most prized assets, nominating Guardians in the event of the parents’ untimely death is highly recommended. The lack of a Guardianship Clause may lead to a grueling family battle, and your children may end up with the wrong Guardians.

A Will does not help an estate avoid probate, it is simply a wish list for the Courts to take into consideration and, if valid, to follow.

POWER OF ATTORNEY

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives another person (the attorney-in-fact) the legal right (powers) to act on your behalf. The instrument usually comes into play if you become incapacitated, mentally or physically. The range of powers given to the attorney-in-fact depend on the terms of the document.  A power of attorney may be very broad or have a very limited or specific scope.

ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE (LIVING WILL)

An Advance Directive is a document that that allows you to make your decisions about end-of-life care ahead of time, should you lose the ability to make and communicate your own decisions in the future.  Your Advance Directive can specify who will make and communicate decisions for you, and it gives you a way to tell your wishes to family, friends, and health care professionals in order to avoid confusion later on.

REVOCABLE LIVING TRUST

There are several types of Trusts, such as Revocable Living Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts, Special Needs Trusts, Pet Trusts, and more. Depending on the situation, in addition to avoiding the time-consuming probate process, each type of Trust has additional benefits that need to be discussed and explored in an individual setting.

A Revocable Living Trust, the most common type of Trust, is a legal document that allows you to establish a separate entity (the trust) to “hold” legal title to your assets while you are alive, and to name trustees to manage those assets according to the trust terms. Typically, the Settlors serve as Trustee during their lifetime. Upon disability or death, the trust terms appoint a Successor Trustee who then continues to manage — or distribute — the assets held in trust.

Contact us today to discuss your specific situation!

Trusts are great Estate Planning tools not only because they help avoid probate, but they can continue to operate long after the Trustor/Settlor has passed, therefore ensuring the desired use of assets after death.