How Is Estate Planning Defined In Oklahoma?
Estate Planning, described in its most basic form, is a written plan put in a legally enforceable document whereby you tell everyone what you want to happen with your personal belongings after you are deceased. Three important questions are answered in a good estate plan. First, who receives what items? Second, when do they receive those items? Third, what happens if that person is not there to receive that gift?
In your estate plan you have the opportunity to let everyone, be it family or friends, know what your wishes and desires are and who you want to have in charge of your estate.
Are People Generally Surprised About Their Estates or Assets When They Meet With You?
People generally have a fair idea of what assets they own, but they sometimes forget how much work it was to gather that money together and to keep it. They fail to take into account how much difference it could make in the life of their children when used properly. If a person has a $200,000 estate, that may not seem like much to them in many instances, but when they realize that they worked for forty years and saved money for all those years to put together that $200,000, and when they realize how much good they can do for their children and grandchildren with this estate, they are sometimes pleasantly surprised when they realize that they are giving their children a gift that is putting them decades ahead of where they would have been otherwise, even with a modest estate.
In my area of the state including Oklahoma City, Nicoma Park, and Specner we are typically working people. There are not many of us born into money. We have a job and put a little bit out of every paycheck into a savings. It makes a real difference if we inherit $100,000. It could very easily double or triple the savings of a typical family, say in Midwest City, where the working parents are already in their forties.
The surprise is not how many assets the clients of a Harrah or Oklahoma City estate planning attorney have; the surprise is how much help they can give to their families with even a modest estate.
Why Do People Need An Estate Plan?
Being a Forest Park estate lawyer, I would like to give a specific example why someone needs an Estate Plan. The lady’s name is Ardi. This is public record in Oklahoma County District Court, and I am not giving you any secrets here. Ardi expected and wanted her brother to inherit her estate, but she never did an estate plan. She never created a trust. She did not even have a power of attorney. When her brother called me to visit Ardi to do her estate planning, she no longer had sufficient mental capacity to do so, and so I was unable to help her at that late date. She died shortly thereafter. Her estate passed under the laws of intestate succession in Oklahoma.
In her case the estate went to her brothers and sisters, and the surviving offspring of her deceased brothers and sisters. In this particular instance, the shares became as small as 1/24 of the estate, and the expense of probating such an estate become a great burden. So, despite the fact that Ardi had done a very good job of saving money, she had not done a good job of planning what to do with it. Her estate passed under the laws of intestate succession, subject to probate in Oklahoma. Some of the people who inherited from Ardi had never met her. They had never done anything kind for her, and they were people she would never have anticipated or intended to inherit.
Because Ardi did not take the time to make a legal estate plan, she was left with the plan that the State of Oklahoma wrote for her. So the summary is, if you die without an estate plan, the State of Oklahoma has written one for you, and after probate the people that the statute defines will inherit all your possessions.
Why Do People Avoid or Delay In Setting Up an Estate Plan?
My own mother delayed creating her estate plan until she was facing serious surgery. Once she told me in a joking tone of voice, that she did not like thinking about an estate plan, because it made her think about dying, and when she thought about dying, she felt sick. Her joke contained a real truth. We human beings do not like to consider that we are mortal and our time here is limited. We are reminded of that uncomfortable truth when we make our own estate plan.
We do not want to be reminded of the inevitable. Perhaps there are a few people who are lazy, but mostly it seems that we humans do not like to face the unknown head-on. Estate planning forces us to think about death and what happens after we are gone. It is an uncomfortable but necessary exercise. There are a few people who do not mind thinking about it, but many more are going to think about it later. Sometimes they never get around to it until it is too late.
For more information on Estate Planning In Oklahoma, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (405) 880-8960 today.
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