Lidia Law Firm, P.C.
Estate Planning & Business Law

Edmond Oklahoma Estate Planning Blog

Estate planning as a small business owner

People create estate plans for many reasons, but many do so to protect their assets and make sure that their estate is managed in accordance with their wishes after they pass away. For some people, such as those who own a small business, having an estate plan in place is especially important and there are additional issues that may need to be reviewed.

After figuring out the most appropriate type of estate plan, small business owners should examine how their estate plan can protect their business. Tax-related issues need to be considered and it may be necessary to address various issues with respect to a family-run business. After someone passes away, many questions related to business operations can arise and it is imperative to have these issues addressed beforehand to prevent uncertainty.

How and why should I create a pet trust?

Like any pet owner in Oklahoma, you consider your pets a part of the family. However, as you may know, the courts do not have the same opinion. Animals are legally considered property. As such, you cannot simply leave money or property to your pets in your will, but you can take several actions to ensure your pets do not become homeless if you die before them or become incapacitated.

One way to safeguard your pets’ future is to leave them in your will to another member of your family you trust. Ideally, you would discuss this with the benefactor in question before including it in your will. If you expect no complications from this arrangement, leaving your pets to someone in your will can be fairly straightforward and give you peace of mind.

Divorce and estate planning: What you should know

Going through a divorce can be extremely overwhelming. Not only are there are host of emotions involved, but there are many issues that must be negotiated when dealing with the divorce decree. One matter that must be considered is that of the estate plan. Whether you have already created an estate plan or you have yet to organize your estate, it is important to keep in mind a few factors when dealing with divorce.

One way to ensure your property and assets are given to your desired beneficiary, it to set up an irrevocable trust. When a trust is in place, the estate may avoid probate and go directly to the beneficiaries. Furthermore, you will want to clearly distinguish what is marital property and what is separate property. While marital property is eligible for division in the divorce settlement, separate property may stay with the original owner in some cases. This will help you know what to include in your estate plan.

Consider these factors before choosing your child's guardian

As a new parent, the last thing you want to think about is dying and leaving your child to be raised by someone else. However, if you want to choose who that stand-in would be, you need to think about it and designate him or her as your child's guardian in your Oklahoma will. Our legal team at the Lidia Law Firm, P.C., often advises parents in the many factors that they should consider before choosing a guardian.

You want your child to be safe and happy, but you also want the guardian to raise him or her as closely as possible to the way you would. Forbes suggests creating a list of your core values for raising your child. You may want the guardian to model and teach generosity, integrity and kindness. It may also be important to you that your child receives a top education and is raised in a specific religious faith, exposed to the arts and encouraged to follow his or her dreams.

Updating your trust after a divorce

When a marriage is brought to an end, life can be tumultuous in many ways. Custody, property division and other family law matters can be incredibly challenging, but there are other responsibilities and stressors that may arise. For example, someone who has a trust may need to make changes to their estate plan following the end of their marriage. For some people, this can be difficult because the divorce process is stressful and time-consuming in and of itself. However, by taking care of these issues promptly, moving forward and finding a sense of peace may be easier.

A trust may need to be revised for different reasons. For example, a former spouse may be listed as a beneficiary, and it may be necessary to revise the trust in order to make sure that one's former marital partner does not receive any assets from the estate. A former spouse may have also been given authority in an estate plan, and it may need to be revised to reflect these changes. Some people may even find themselves in a new marriage after their divorce, which may also necessitate making revisions to their existing estate plan.

What are some potential hurdles in probate?

Oklahoma residents who undertake the probate process are unfortunately going to be dealing with a lot of potentially unfamiliar legal hurdles. Lidia Law Firm, P.C., is here to help you through as you decide what you need to do.

It's highly advised for anyone going through probate to have a legal expert on your side. Why? Because the process is rife with legal complexities, and you never know what issues may crop up. The most important thing for you to keep in mind is that you - the executor - could be held personally responsible if anything goes wrong during the process. This can and has sunk people thousands of dollars or even more.

The basics of a joint will

As Oklahoma couples move through their lives, they may realize they need a will. There are many reasons people should write a will and as they begin to explore the process, people may quickly feel overwhelmed when they see how many options they have. One option some couples may want to consider is a joint will.

According to FindLaw, a will allows people to leave instructions about their children's care if they die while the kids are still young. A will can also help ensure that surviving family members receive their part of the estate sooner. Additionally, people can decide in advance which of their family members will inherit particular assets. Couples may write a will together or they may choose to write one for each spouse.

How do trustee fees compare to will executor fees?

You probably already know by now that wills and trusts have different roles to play, and while every situation is different, you may find it helpful to incorporate each into your estate plan in Oklahoma. Even if you believe that a trust may be potentially beneficial in your particular circumstances, you may be reluctant to start one because of the cost involved. If that is the case, it may surprise you to know that, according to Bankrate, the fees to engage a professional trustee for your estate are lower than the fees paid to a professional executor of a will. 

In either case, fees will vary depending on the size and complexity of your estate, as well as where you live. Generally speaking, however, fees paid to a trustee whom you hire to manage your estate amount to only about 1 percent of the total assets in the trust. 

If you have a trust, do you still need a will?

When you set up a revocable trust in Oklahoma, you arrange for a trustee to hold some assets aside for distribution to one or more parties after your death according to the terms you stipulate. A revocable trust is also sometimes called a "living trust" because as long as you are still alive, you have the option of making changes to it as circumstances warrant. 

If you already have a trust in place, you may wonder if you also need to make out a will. According to Bankrate, the answer is yes; although a trust functions similarly to a will in some ways, particularly as it relates to the distribution of assets after your death, there are some things a will can do that a trust cannot. 

Why executors should deal with estate debt early

It is common for people to die with some debts still outstanding. However, just because someone in Oklahoma dies, it does not mean that the debts that person incurred in life die as well. Since those debts can come back to haunt the estate of the deceased, the executor of the estate should be proactive in alerting creditors that their debtor has passed.

According to Forbes, an executor might need to publicly advertise the existence of the estate. By placing an advertisement in a newspaper or using whatever means are permitted, an executor is making it easier for creditors to learn about the estate and that they can approach the executor for the outstanding money. If necessary, the creditors may contest for the assets of the estate in court or negotiate for a settlement.

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