Estate planning refers to the process of preparing one’s assets for distribution upon death, incapacitation, or for the benefit of another. Estate plans are important to make if you own any property or assets, and have loved ones who you wish to receive parts of your estate after you pass away. Not only can you protect your assets while you are living, but may preserve your estate and distribute it according to your wishes after you pass away. Estate plans may also protect your medical and financial decisions, and ensure that your interests are looked after should you become unable to do so. When you pass away, your estate should be divided and distributing according to your wishes. Our estate planning attorneys may assist clients create new, comprehensive estate plans, or amend existing estate plans.
Some people are under the mistaken impression that estate planning only consists of creating a will. However, such plans encompass a myriad of issues and details, including life insurance policies, bank accounts, investments and more. A qualified lawyer will also tell you that there are many other details you may have never considered with regard to Oklahoma estate planning. These details include issues that others may overlook, such as who will inherit your artwork and who will take care of your beloved pet. Events can transpire that may cause strife and hardship for the loved ones who are left behind-that is why planning ahead with a Tulsa estate planning attorney is so critical.
Your estate plan is a very personal matter and you should think carefully about how your plan will affect you and those close to you. Each individual and family is unique, with its own needs and objectives. Too often people fail to address their estate needs at all, or attempt to address their unique situation with a standard form, without thought as to how that form will satisfy their specific needs.
The sooner you begin the estate planning process the more options you will have to accomplish your objectives. As long as you are over age 18, you are not too young or too old to implement an estate plan. Procrastinating, however, may result in your involuntary adoption of the state’s plan rather than a customized plan that meets your individual needs. Failing to plan will also cost you and your loved ones much more in the long run.
While minimizing estate taxes and deciding what should happen to your property after your lifetime are important aspects of any estate plan, they may be dwarfed in importance by other issues. For example, with today’s medical technology, people are living longer, but are not always able to care for themselves, their dependents or their property throughout their entire life. Therefore, a will alone, no matter how comprehensive, is no longer an adequate estate plan because it only becomes effective after death. What happens if you someday become mentally or physically unable to care for yourself, your family or your property?
In addition to a will, a complete estate plan must include supplemental instruments that give instructions concerning your well being and property management during your lifetime, such as living wills, powers of attorney or trusts.
In planning your estate, you should consider at least the following basic issues:
Your personal welfare if you become incapacitated–
Who will make health care benefits for you if you cannot?
Who will care for your day-to-day needs if you cannot?
Who will manage your property for you if you cannot?
The welfare of your loved ones during and after your lifetime–
Who will care for them if you cannot?
How will gifts or bequests from you affect their lives?
Should any conditions be placed on their receipt of property from you?
If you don’t want them to control and manage the property you intend for them, who should?
Does an equitable distribution always mean an equal distribution? For example, do some children have greater needs than others?
Would some children be better off receiving property in trust while others are better off receiving property outright?
The nature of your specific assets–
Will they provide the income and resources you need during your lifetime?
Are they easily managed by someone else?
Are they easily divided among your intended beneficiaries?
If your assets include a business–
How will your estate plan affect the business’ future?
How will your estate plan affect your family’s relationship with any business partner(s)?
What can be done now to reduce the likelihood of disputes over the value or control of the business?
Our estate planning attorneys can go over every aspect of your estate with you, and ensure every possible scenario is planned for. When you need an attorney to handle your estate planning, we have the reputation, experience and knowledge to handle your case. Our attorneys will work with you to develop a comprehensive estate planning strategy. At our firm, every client is our most important client. Whether you are an individual or with a small or a large estate, your estate plans will receive the personal attention it deserves.