Oklahoma Estate Planning Questions & Answers
Estate planning documents are important, but they can be confusing - so confusing that many people go out of their way to avoid estate planning. Many Oklahoma estate questions lead to confusion and fear related to estate planning tools as well as how to create an estate plan. At Ball Morse Lowe, our estate planning attorneys want to help educate readers on the estate planning process. This includes providing a free consultation, because while both estate planning and the probate process are controlled by Oklahoma law, ultimately creating an estate plan must be individualized to meet the needs of the client. Schedule your free consultation now.
In this blog post, we will answer four common Oklahoma estate planning questions.
What Is the Best Way to Address Medical Decisions with Estate Planning?
Medical decisions can be addressed in estate planning documents. The most common way to do this is through the use of a power of attorney. A healthcare power of attorney is an estate planning tool that is used to name a personal representative (referred to as an attorney-in-fact) who is authorized by you to make medical decisions on your behalf.
There are two types of healthcare power of attorney forms. The first type is not durable and the other type is durable. When a power of attorney is not durable, it loses its effectiveness if you are determined incapacitated. If it is durable, the attorney-in-fact continues to make medical decisions for you if you are found to be incapacitated.
Of course, a power of attorney would only be one piece of the estate plan to address long-term care. A living trust, life insurance, and other estate planning tools could also be used to ensure that you receive the care you want and need in the future.
Which Major Life Issues Mean It's Time for Reviewing the Documents?
Some specific major life issues mean you should either recognize that it is time to begin the process of creating an estate plan or, if you have one, that it is time for reviewing the documents you already have. This is because you may need to make new beneficiary designations, create different estate planning documents, or use different estate planning tools if you've had major changes in your income that could trigger the federal estate tax.
The major life issues include:
- Getting married;
- Getting divorced;
- The birth or adoption of a child (it is always important to keep in mind that determination of heirship in Oklahoma is incredibly important);
- The death of someone who would benefit from your current estate plan;
- Something significant occurs that you believe necessitates a change to your estate plan; or
- You wish to change your personal representative for any reason.
Should You Create a Living Trust to Protect Your Assets for Your Children?
A living trust can be used to hold and protect assets. One of the unique features of a living trust is that you have the ability to make changes to the trust, including revoking the trust, during your lifetime. You also have the ability to change beneficiary designations.
If you decide to establish a living trust, you are able to decide how your assets will be distributed to your children or other beneficiaries after your death. For example, you could decide that a certain amount of the money within the trust must be used for education or expenses related to pursuing.
As another added benefit, you can remain a beneficiary and the trustee during your lifetime. A successor trustee is named to take your place when you die. This can be your spouse, attorney, or professional trustee.
Living trusts are wonderful estate planning tools, since they are flexible, and the assets placed within them avoid the Oklahoma probate process.
Is an Estate Planning Attorney Necessary?
Creating an estate plan takes work. While no law says you must hire an estate planning attorney, the guidance offered by one can be crucial to ensure that you choose the right estate planning tools, documents, and answer your questions surrounding Oklahoma law. For example, Oklahoma has a law related to the determination of heirship. When someone has been dead for at least a year and there is proof that at least one asset has not been distributed to a beneficiary, the estate was not officially settled. A determination of heirship proceeding could be initiated. Would your personal representative know all of your assets and how to handle this type of hearing on their own? An estate planning attorney can work with you to create your estate plan and keep it up to date. This alone can be very beneficial to avoid a determination of heirship hearing in the Oklahoma probate court, but it will also help establish a knowledgeable relationship so that your personal representative will know where to turn in the future if it becomes necessary.
Schedule Your Free Estate Planning Consultation
Don't avoid estate planning! Go into it with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney. Schedule your free consultation now with Ball Morse Lowe!