What is a Revocable Trust?

estate planning A revocable trust or living trust is a written document providing for the management of your property which becomes effective while you are living, unlike a Last Will & Testament which takes effect after your death. A trust is set up for a trustee to manage your property for your benefit during your lifetime or in the event of your incapacity. Ordinarily, you serve as the sole trustee until you die or become incapacitated. After your death, the trust document will provide for your successor trustee to distribute any remaining property to those persons or beneficiaries you have chosen or provide for the continued management of your property by that successor trustee for many years, with the ultimate distribution as you direct. The primary advantage of a revocable trust over a will is that upon your death, the administration of your estate in probate court is avoided, and the distribution of your property is governed by your trust outside of the probate court system.

This normally results in a quicker and less costly distribution of your property to the beneficiaries you have selected. In addition, a revocable trust is a private document and hence your privacy & confidentiality are maintained. In this regard a trust is unlike a will which, if probated, normally requires the filing of a general inventory & appraisement of all your assets.  When a revocable trust is fully funded by conveying all of our property into your trust during your lifetime, no probate of your estate is required.

A final advantage of a trust is that it can continue after your death, holding the property for the benefit of a spouse, a child or another named benefactor. This is especially useful in the event the spouse, child or other beneficiary is disabled. In this regards incorporation of a  ‘special needs’ trust is inserted within your Trust indenture.

You should consult with an attorney who works extensively with estate planning for an explanation of the advantages and disadvantages of wills & trusts.

 

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What is a Will?

Will

A Will is a written instrument by which you provide for the disposition of your property after your death. In Oklahoma, if you are of sound mind and eighteen years or older, you may dispose of your property by will. 

Using a will or trust form downloaded from the internet for estate planning purposes is not recommended. A will or trust must be prepared within the legal technicalities prescribed by the law. These technicalities are for the protection of you and your heirs, and they must be observed. The proper drafting of a will or a trust requires the professional knowledge, skill and experience of a practicing lawyer.

Is a handwritten will valid? And can I get by with that? Under Oklahoma law a holographic will that is entirely written, dated and signed in your own handwriting, and which contains no typed or printed portion, is valid. The problems resulting from this type of will are not so much in what the person writing the will says as in what the person fails to say. Without the advice of any attorney, most people who prepare handwritten wills fail to include provisions that address the issue of a beneficiary who dies before the will maker, the naming of an executor and waiver of his bond, the source for payment of administrative expenses of the estate and the specific powers the executor will have.

Don’t pass without having a Will or Trust professionally prepared on your behalf.

If you have a will, your estate will be ‘probated’ in court. If you do not have a will, your estate will be ‘administered’ in court. The Probate Code provides several methods to probate or administer an estate, some of which can reduce costs if used appropriately.

An attorney with a working knowledge of wills, inheritance, probate and estate administration can provide guidance on minimizing probate or estate administration costs and achieving the desired results for distribution of your estate.

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Do I Need A Will or Trust?

Last Will 150 thumnail 2There are several reasons to have a will or trust. Most importantly, having a will or a trust allows you to decide who will receive your property rather than leaving that choice to state law.

Having a will allows you to choose your personal representative – otherwise known as an executor under your Will. Without a will, the court could appoint someone as an Executor other than a person you would choose.

Having a probate avoidance Trust allows you to avoid the probate court system altogether provided your Trust is created and funded properly.

Equally important, if you have minor children you can name their guardian in your will or trust. Your selection of a guardian is not binding on a court, but the court will give strong consideration to your selection. Without a will or  trust, the court may appoint a guardian other that the person you would have chosen.

Finally, if you should pass away without a Will or Trust (otherwise referred to as an ‘intestate estate’), here are the general rules of how your estate will be distributed under Oklahoma law:

If you die leaving a surviving spouse and children, your spouse takes one-half of your estate, and your children split the remaining one-half in equal shares. If you die leaving a surviving spouse and no children, your spouse takes one-half of your estate, and your parents share the remaining one-half.

If you die single but have children, your children take your entire estate in equal shares. If you die single with no children, your parents take your entire estate.

If your children are minors, your surviving spouse, in order to use their portion of your estate for their support or education, would either have to be appointed guardian of the children by the court or have someone else appointed, give a statutory bond, make annual accountings to the guardianship court and obtain the court’s permission for many routine transactions. Thus, in this incidence not having a Will results in considerable expense being passed on to you.

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