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

Edmond Oklahoma Estate Planning Blog

Intestate succession in Oklahoma

Adults in Edmond are advised to start the estate planning process early on in their lives. A central piece of any estate plan is one’s will. In it, a person stipulates how (and to whom) they want their assets dispersed. Yet what happens if one dies without a will?

Such a situation is certainly not out of the realm of possibility (indeed, information compiled by Gallup shows that only 44 percent of American adults actually have a will). If one does not prepare a will, the state has laws that determine how their estates are dispersed to their heirs.

Remember your estate plan when you divorce

If you and your spouse are among the Oklahoma couples who took the time to create a solid estate plan, you should feel good about that. However, if you and your spouse are now embarking on a divorce, your plan will need renewed attention as certainly the decisions you made as a couple will no longer be the ones you may want to make as a single person.

As explained by Forbes, some elements of your estate planning decisions cannot be addressed until your divorce is completely finalized. This is due in part to the fact that you will not know what assets and what debts you will retain until that time. You may even be required to keep your former spouse as the named beneficiary on a specific account as part of your divorce agreement.

What are signs of undue influence?

When Oklahoma residents write their will or handle other estate matters, it is generally believed that they are getting across the exact message they want. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case. We at Lidia Law Firm, P.C., will explain undue influence and its potential signs.

First, if another party has exerted influence over your loved one in a way that makes them act out of character, or make decisions that they would not make in the right state of mind, this is undue influence. The influencer in this scenario is likely acting in an underhanded and sneaky way so as not to be caught or noticed by anyone else or the target, so the signs can be hard to spot.

Can you leave assets to charity?

As a resident of Oklahoma, you may want to pass on a portion or the entirety of your assets to charity after your passing. But is it possible to do that? Fortunately for you, this is why charitable trusts exist.

According to How Stuff Works, charitable trusts can hold assets that are signed over or used by you, the donor, to create or help fund a charitable foundation. You can choose any charity to benefit from the assets that you have set aside in this trust. This allows you to determine exactly who gets your support even after your passing.

The validity of holographic wills in Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, there are certain procedures to follow and guidelines to meet when creating a will. If someone’s will is not done correctly, it could potentially be considered invalid. Today we will take a look at holographic wills and their validity in the state.

According to The Free Dictionary, a holographic will is a fully handwritten will that lacks the two witness signatures necessary to make it valid. This will can be written anywhere or on anything. It can be a letter, a diary entry, or even something scratched out on a notepad. About half of the fifty states allow for holographic wills to be considered valid. Even within those states, there are usually restrictions or requirements for validity.

Are you making succession plans for your business?

Oklahoma business owners like you have more than the average resident to worry about when it comes to drafting trusts, wills, or other end-of-life plans. This is because you have your business to worry about, too. How can you ensure that it passes down in the way that you want it to?

FindLaw examines succession planning for small businesses, i.e. planning for how you are going to hand down the business after you have passed on or are otherwise no longer able or willing to manage it. Succession planning is particularly important for smaller businesses, as the entire business could be resting on your shoulders alone. Not only will you need to identify family members who have the qualities you are looking for in a successor, but you will also need to make contingency plans just in case no one in your family is willing or able to take on the position.

I'm only 30? Why do I need an estate plan?

If you are one of the many Oklahoma residents who is in your 20s or 30s, you might be very focused on establishing yourself as an independent adult. Moving out of your parents' home for good and being financially responsible for every aspect of your life can feel daunting but it can also feel very good as you learn that you are able to truly take care of yourself and manage your life. As you learn to do this, it is also useful for you to consider some basic estate planning.

The thought of an estate plan might make you immediately think about a will or a trust. These are things one generally associates with someone who is older and in your parents' or your grandparents' generation as these people usually have more assets that require such attention. These people are also expected to have less time left to live than you do. These things may be true but that does not negate the importance of estate planning at your age.

Important estate planning tools

Many people in Oklahoma might think that an estate plan is all about a will or a trust. While these documents can be important elements in an estate plan, they are far from the only tools that a person should have in place to properly protect themselves, their assets and their family members.

A thorough estate plan provides provisions not just for what should happen to assets or debts after a person dies but it should also provide a path for taking care of a person's health or estate if they should become incapacitated for any reason, even if only for a short time. A revocable living trust not only gives a person the ability to manage their finances while they are still living but it also names another person to do so in the event that the trustor cannot. A durable financial power of attorney does the same thing for any assets not able to be part of the trust.

When do you need to update your will?

Estate planning in Oklahoma is usually not a one-and-done deal. It is possible, perhaps even likely, that your life circumstances will change in one way or another between now and the time that you eventually pass on, perhaps more than once. When that happens, it is a very good idea to review your will and make changes accordingly to reflect your current situation. 

There is no predetermined schedule by which you should update your will. Rather, it should happen any time you experience a major life change that affects its current provisions. Forbes magazine suggests several life events that may warrant review and revision of your will. 

Wills, trusts and blended families

Many people in Oklahoma find themselves contemplating a new marriage after having been married at least once before. This can and should be a very happy experience and a reason for celebration. However, it is also a time for people to be practical and address some important matters. Among these matters are their wishes for their estates after they die.

Spouses may naturally want to provide for each other after their death but they may also want to leave money or belongings to their children and grandchildren. When the new spouse is not the parent of a person's children, it can become difficult to figure out how best to provide for both parties. A solid estate plan is a must.

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