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

Edmond Oklahoma Estate Planning Blog

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.

Are there limits on what you can put in a will?

Making a will in Oklahoma is a smart way to express your wishes to your surviving relatives as to how you would like them to handle your estate after your death. However, just because you want your property handled in a particular way does not make it legal or possible to do so. As with most legal matters, there are rules and norms that govern what you can and cannot include in your will. 

For example, according to FindLaw, you cannot leave money or gifts for illegal purposes. It may seem obvious, but attempting to do so invalidates the will. Other rules are slightly less straightforward, and what follows are some guidelines about how you can and cannot handle certain matters in your will.

Late artist's estate sues over use of images in horror film

A common misconception that many in Edmond may have regarding estate administration is that it is a singular event. While that may be true in certain cases, many times estate administration can be a process that plays out over several years (even decades). This is especially true in the case of those who own properties that are put out for public consumption. Executors and personal representatives in these cases are tasked with ensuring that any intellectual or artistic properties belonging to an estate are not used without authorization (or if they are, that the estate is duly and adequately compensated for their use). 

Oftentimes, people will use protected properties without even knowing that they need such authorization. Such appears to have been the case in the making of the film (which itself is a remake of a classic Italian film). The movies director admitted that the images he used in many of the film's dream sequences were inspired by the works of popular feminist artists. Two such images apparently came to close to resembling two actual works of art produced by a renowned Cuban-American artist. Representatives of her estate took note of this and sued the film's production company. The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount, and the images were removed from the film's theatrical version. 

What is the role of an executor?

As you prepare your estate, you will have to choose an executor. Understanding what the executor does will help ensure that you pick the right person for the job. According to Forbes, the main duty is for the executor to carry out your wishes. However, the job entails much more than that.

The executor essentially takes over your estate and manages it after you die. He or she holds personal responsibility for the choices he or she makes concerning the estate. If the executor mismanages the estate, he or she is personally liable for any loses. Because of this, you want to ensure you choose someone who is responsible and fiscally sound.

What is a special needs trust?

If you are the parent of an Oklahoma special needs child, you undoubtedly do everything in your power to see to it that your child receives the care and services (s)he needs. But you also likewise worry about who will care for your child if (s)he outlives you and if the money will be there to provide that care once you are no longer around.

It may surprise you to learn that establishing a special needs trust for the benefit of your child could relieve both your worries. As FindLaw explains, a special needs trust names your child as trust beneficiary, lists the trust assets, designates you as trustee, plus your choice of successor trustee in the event of your incapacity or death, and specifies who you want to care for your disabled child once you can no longer do so yourself.

Deciding if revocable trusts are right for you

Oklahoma residents who are going to become a grantor for a beneficiary will have a number of things to consider. The type of trust they want is one of the first things that should undergo consideration.

Taking a look at revocable trusts first, the American Bar Association defines them as a type of trust that can be changed while the grantor is alive. In a trust, there is the grantor, the beneficiary, and the trustee. The trustee is the one who handles the property in accordance with the trust, while the beneficiary is the one who actually uses the property in question. The grantor is the one who sets the trust up and provides the funds. "Property" in this situation can be anything being given to the beneficiary, but usually involves money.

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