Creating an estate plan in Oklahoma City is not only for individuals with significant wealth. Any person who wants to ensure their wishes are carried out near the end of their life and after their death can benefit from an estate plan. An estate plan can simply be a legally enforceable will, but it can also include other documents such as a revocable or irrevocable trust, medical directives, and powers of attorney.
A comprehensive estate plan can keep your loved ones from dealing with a long probate process and ensure those you want to benefit from your estate see those benefits. Your estate plan can be crafted to fit the unique needs of your family and estate.
What Are The Main Documents in an Estate Plan?
Each individual’s estate plan may be adapted to meet their needs. The main components of a comprehensive estate plan include:
- A Will: A will lays out guidelines and wishes for the distribution of your assets and estate to your heirs. It names an executor for your estate and can also list a guardian for minor children and provide someone with fiduciary duty for the children’s inheritance. Without a will, your estate will be divided according to Oklahoma intestate succession laws, which may not be in accordance with your wishes.
- A Trust: A revocable living trust is an entity that you can place your assets in the care of and still access them and revise the contents while you are alive. When you pass, the ownership of the trust passes to the successor trustee, preventing the items in a trust from the state’s ownership. This allows your family to avoid probate and receive the assets you left them much sooner.
- Financial Power of Attorney: A financial power of attorney allows you to name an individual who will gain legal power over your financial actions if you cannot make those decisions. This may be a family member, friend, or professional.
- Medical Power of Attorney and Directives: Medical directives provide guidelines for your medical care if you are incapacitated and unable to choose for yourself. You can select where you would like to receive healthcare and what medical care you do and do not allow. A medical power of attorney assigns a loved one, family member, friend, or professional the legal power to make medical decisions on your behalf and follow the medical directives if you can’t make those decisions.
In order for a comprehensive estate plan to offer you the certainty that your wishes will be followed, it must be legally valid. Your estate planning attorney can help you make documents that are legally enforceable and review them frequently to ensure they remain updated with your current wishes.
Advantages of an Estate Plan
There are several benefits to a comprehensive estate plan, including:
- Keeping Control Over Your Interests
When an estate plan includes powers of attorney and medical directives, you can feel confident in how you will be cared for. Without these instructions and legal authority, your loved ones will have to go through court, which could take significant time. When you outline your care and provide legal power to those you trust in case of incapacity or incompetence, you can protect yourself and maintain control over your personal health and safety. These documents can also prevent the need for a guardianship or conservatorship. Your estate plan also gives you control over your assets and estate after your death.
- Protecting Your Family
A comprehensive estate plan with a trust can keep the majority of your estate out of probate court. Probate court is lengthy and stressful and prevents your loved ones from accessing your estate until it’s resolved. Additionally, the legal costs of probate and federal estate taxes can cut significantly into the benefits you intend to leave behind. An estate plan can also provide a legal guardian for minor children and ensure their needs are cared for.
- Maintaining Your Estate
One of the main reasons many individuals begin an estate plan is to keep assets and an estate protected during life and after death. Your comprehensive estate plan can keep assets out of probate, largely avoid creditor claims, and provide privacy for your family and estate.
Q: What Is the Benefit of Estate Planning?
A: An estate plan protects your assets and estate while you are alive and safeguards them for your heirs and beneficiaries when you pass. It ensures that your family and loved ones benefit from your estate as much as possible by limiting the impact of probate court. This also saves your family significant time and stress after your death. An estate plan can also provide instructions for your medical care and give certain legal powers in the event you are incapacitated and unable to decide for yourself.
Q: What Are the Three Primary Goals of Estate Planning?
A: Every person is going to have unique goals when creating and implementing an estate plan, and the documents in an estate plan reflect those needs. In a comprehensive estate plan, some of the main goals include:
- Ensuring you are cared for at the end of your life or in case of incapacity and providing legal authority to those you trust.
- Limiting the cost and stress to your beneficiaries while increasing the benefits they receive.
- Protecting your estate during your life and after your death for your heirs.
Q: How Does an Estate Plan Differ From a Will?
A: A will is one potential document that makes up an estate plan. Your will outlines your wishes for property and asset distribution, the heirs to your estate, and guardians for any minor children. A will is often the main document in an estate plan. However, an estate plan can also include a revocable or irrevocable trust, power of attorney for financial decisions, power of attorney for medical decisions, and guidelines for your medical care.
Q: What Is One of the Purposes of Estate Planning?
A: Estate planning allows individuals to prepare and plan for their wishes after their death. For each person, this reason may be different. They may want to provide assets to their loved ones, ensure their estate is cared for, help their family avoid probate, or wish to keep their estate private. An estate plan can help many individuals find a way to legally ensure their wishes are followed.
Estate Planning for Your Needs
Your estate plan should reflect your unique circumstances and wishes. At Stange Law Firm, our attorneys can help you determine what your goals are for estate planning and help you meet those. Contact Stange Law Firm today.