Oklahoma City Estate Planning Lawyer
In today’s world, estate planning is a necessity. Simply put, it is the process of arranging for your assets and property to be distributed according to your desires after you pass. This entails making decisions about who will receive your assets, if and how distributions to beneficiaries will be restricted, who should act as guardian of your minor children if both you and your spouse have passed, and other important considerations.
If you are concerned about these aspects of the estate planning process but feel overwhelmed and are unsure of where to start, consider visiting with our experienced Oklahoma City estate planning attorneys at Entz Burton & Associates for help. Our compassionate legal team can assist you in answering any questions that may arise during the organizational phase so that you feel more confident moving forward with an effective plan. There are three pillars to estate planning: preparation, implementation, and execution. Our Warr Acres, Oklahoma estate planning lawyers can help you with all three pillars and ensure your estate plan meets all of your family’s objectives and protects your legacy.
Last Will and Testament
A Last Will and Testament (Will) is an essential part of any estate plan. A Will is a document you use to state how you would like your property to divided after death and who you would like to serve as executor of your estate. A Will also can name guardians for children or provide instructions for caring for pets or other possessions if something unforeseen happens in your family. A common misconception is that having a Will allows your family to avoid probate (the court administered process of resolving an estate) – unfortunately, this is not true. A Will must be probated, but provides a specific set of instructions for the distribution of your assets. A Living Trust can accomplish many of these same goals without going through probate when someone dies, but a trust is not always right for everyone. Wills should be considered when developing an estate plan and reviewed periodically with an attorney after being established.
A Living Trust, also known as a Revocable Trust, is a type of legal document that provides many benefits. Like a Last Will and Testament, a Living Trust allows you to describe how your assets are to be distributed when you pass and who you would like to be in charge of this process. However, unlike a Will, a Living Trust permits assets held in its name to bypass probate, which requires court involvement and oversight and can be expensive and time-consuming for beneficiaries, who have not been involved in the process during life or remain unsure of the exact steps following their loved one’s death. Learn more about our asset protection service.
Living Trusts also come into play if you become incapacitated during your lifetime through illness or injury by allowing your chosen successors to act on your behalf. Through additional preparation and legwork when compared to a Last Will and Testament, a Living Trust avoids having your family members go through complicated probate matters at your death and allows for your assets to be taken care of at your incapacity. Living Trusts allow your family to avoid complicated probate.
Transfer of Assets by Operation of Law
Titling real property, bank accounts, IRAs, etc. is another way to avoid probate and transfer property at your death. Titling real property with life estate/remainder, joint tenancy, or transfer-on-death designations can be used to transfer property at your death. Similarly, many financial accounts allow you to either jointly own or select who receives payment at your death. Properly using these designations for items in your estate that allow for it is another way we help you plan for how your estate is arranged. Our attorneys have experience drafting any deeds necessary and can communicate with the appropriate financial institutions to accomplish any of these designations.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to designate someone else as your agent and give them the authority to act on your behalf. It can be used for specific transactions or provide general authority to act for you, depending on what level of control you desire your agent to have over your affairs. Most often Powers of Attorney become effective upon a person’s physician-assessed incapacity.
A Power of Attorney lets your agent handle some or all financial matters for you, such as paying bills or managing investments. It also gives an authorized individual the right to access health information needed by physicians who are treating you, including details about any pre-existing conditions, and the ability to make certain health care decisions. All powers granted under a Power of Attorney must conform with guidelines set by Oklahoma state law, so it is incredibly important that anyone considering signing this document understands those limitations and their legal rights.
Advance Directive for Health Care
An Advance Directive for Health Care, commonly referred to as a “Living Will”, can be used to fulfill wishes regarding treatment at the end of life when you are unable to make decisions for yourself. These instances may arise with advanced age or terminal illness/injury, where having an Advance Directive in place provides guidance if a person is unable to speak with physicians or caretakers concerning care. Such directives may include detailed instructions concerning life-sustaining treatment, organ and tissue donation preferences, administration of medication for pain, and more. These legal documents enable patients’ wishes pertaining their own lives to be carried out if they become unable to make their wishes known.
Visit with Our Experienced Oklahoma City & Warr Acres Estate Planning Attorneys Today
One of the most important aspects to consider when looking into estate planning is how one’s property and assets will be distributed after death. Wills, Living Trusts, Powers of Attorney, and other legal documents are employed in order to make certain wishes are fulfilled, both during incapacity and after death. The state of Oklahoma has specific laws regarding the transfer of assets and what occurs when a person becomes incapacitated, and visiting with an Oklahoma City estate planning attorney can help you better understand all of your options.
The experienced Warr Acres, Oklahoma estate planning attorneys at Entz Burton & Associates can help you understand all of your legal options and ensure your legal and financial rights remain protected during incapacity and after your death. Our objective is to give you peace of mind and to ensure certain wishes are fulfilled. Consider visiting with one of our compassionate Oklahoma City, OK estate planning attorneys today at 405-773-9800 to learn more about your estate planning options.