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estate planning


Estate Planning

“Estate Planning” goes beyond simply preparing a will or even a trust. The following is a list of some of the options that are available in estate planning.

(1) Durable Powers of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is used to invest someone with the authority to act on his behalf. A durable power of attorney could be indispensable should you become incapacitated. It provides a way provide for your care without the necessity of a court proceeding. However, as is the case with many estate planning tools, the durable power of attorney is a much more complex document that first appears to be the case. It is extremely useful because it is a document that can be uniquely tailored to your needs. Therefore, it is never safe to assume there is a single “form” of durable power that can be used over and over again without careful review.

(2) Health Care Powers of Attorney

In Oklahoma, health care powers are permitted to be included in a durable power of attorney. Because the Advance Directive to Physicians has certain shortcomings, this is an important companion to an Advance Directive that gives you the ability to exercise some degree of control over how health care decisions will be made in the event of incapacity. Although implemented through a durable power of attorney, it is possible to separate health care decisions from the financial decisions that are most commonly thought to be the object of durable powers.

(3) Advance Directive to Physician/Living Will

Under the Oklahoma Natural Death Act, individuals have the right to express their desire not to have life artificially prolonged where the attending physician determines that death is imminent or will result within a relatively short time without application of life-sustaining procedures. This is an important form, but it does not cover every instance in which health care decisions may have to be made, and, therefore, should be used together with a durable health care power of attorney.

(4) Last Will and Testament

Of course, no estate plan can be complete without a will. Even if the estate plan that has been developed envisions that no probate will be necessary, prudence requires planning for the unexpected.

(5) Revocable “Living” Trust

Depending on the nature of your estate and estate planning goals, a revocable living trust may be used to avoid probate at death and to work with a durable power of attorney to provide for your care in the event of incapacity. Where such a trust is used, it usually replaces the will as the centerpiece of the estate plan and contains all of the dispositive provisions normally found in the will. This does not eliminate the need for a will; it merely changes the nature of its provisions as the primary beneficiary under the will becomes the companion revocable living trust.

(6) Trusts For Children

Instead of leaving your property outright to your children or other beneficiaries on your death or the death of your surviving spouse, consider leaving it to them in trust for some period of time. This allows you to exert some control over the timing and amount of distributions that will happen in the distant future. The provisions of such a trust will have to be individually designed to satisfy your goals. You may wish to keep all of the children’s assets together in a single trust until all of them have reached a certain age or accomplished a specified goal (e.g., completed college education), and then distribute the remainder to them. Or you may wish to immediately divide the estate into separate trusts, each of which will make distributions based on a set of criteria that are applied separately to each trust and beneficiary. 

 (7) Transfer on Death Deed 

A Transfer on Death Deed provides for the transfer of real property to a named beneficiary upon the death of the owner, with the owner retaining full ownership during his or her lifetime. Oklahoma also provides for “Trans­fer on Death” or “Payable on Death” for other types of property, including bank accounts, corporate stock and other types of personal property. 

(8) Joint Tenancy  Deed

Upon the death of the first joint tenant, the property passes to the survivor by law. The survivor becomes the sole owner of the prop­erty and should make additional provisions for distribu­tion upon his or her death.