Estate Planning: Wills and Trusts

Lauren Portilloz
by Lauren Portilloz 15 Feb 2021

No one likes to sit down and think about our death. But taking this time out to plan, can save your family and friends time, energy and money trying to handle and figure out what you would have wanted. This can eliminate family fights, plan for your burial or cremation and prevent your family from having to make final medical decisions trying to figure out what you would have wanted.

Estate Planning: Wills and Trusts

What is a will?

A will is a written instrument with certain formalities that directs how to distribute your property after death. A will is revocable during your lifetime. It will only take effect upon the death of the testator (the person whose will it is). In Oklahoma, you must be of sound mind and 18 years or older. A will has certain legal requirements to be valid and must be drawn up by an attorney.

Should I have a will or a trust?

A person does not have to be wealthy or elderly to prepare a trust or a will. If you own a home or a car or checking account, you have what we call an estate. Having a will allows you to choose your personal representative (the person who will handle your estate after you pass away). Without a will, the court will appoint someone, other than someone maybe you would choose. With a trust, you can avoid the probate process. A trust is created during your lifetime which allows you to direct how your property will be distributed when you pass away. You can appoint a guardian of your minor children in either a will or a trust. We can help go through your assets and situation to help you decide what will be the most beneficial for you and your family.

What costs more a will or a trust?

It will cost more to prepare a trust. A trust will require more time because your assets will need to be transferred to the trust, such as your vehicle and home. When you pass away, your family will save money as they do not have to have your trust probated.

What other documents should I prepare?

We recommend including the following when you prepare your will or trust:

Durable Power of Attorney: This will be a person you pick to make decisions and can perform duties on your behalf concerning your finances and assets and act on your behalf in dealing with third parties.

Healthcare Power of Attorney: This will be a person you pick to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated.

Advance Directive: This will be where you make decisions about life-sustaining treatments, end-of-life care, donor, etc. This can be changed in the hospital at any time.

What is probate?

This is a legal process by which your property will properly transfer to other parties. This process will entail presenting your will, to determine if it is valid, notifying your heirs and creditors, and closing out your estate. Probate can take weeks to years, depending on if your family is contesting matters. Oklahoma allows for Summary Administration if your estate is worth less than $200,000 which can expedite the process.

Question: My parents passed away and only had a house and I am the only child, so I can sell their house, right?

Answer: Wrong. I have many clients who go to sell their parent's or family's property, only to find out during closing that they cannot complete the process until they go through probate. Almost everyone who passes away and owns property, that does not have a trust, must go through probate.

We can help you with wills, trusts, and probate matters. We will go through your situation and determine the best fit for you and your family. I will walk you through everything that we need to get your future set for your family. Call us at (918) 212-8079 to set up your free consultation.

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