Oklahoma City Estate Planning Attorneys
The Importance of Planning Your Estate
Estate planning is one of the most important measures you will ever take to protect both your loved ones and your legacy. Unfortunately, far too many people fail to recognize how critical these measures really are until it’s too late.
You go to great lengths during your life to manage your assets and provide for your family. Estate planning is a way for you to continue to take care of them, even if you are no longer around to do so.
Contact our Oklahoma City estate planning attorneys today to learn more about our comprehensive services.
What Is Estate Planning?
Many people mistakenly believe Estate Planning is only for the elderly or the wealthy. Not true! Everyone needs Estate Planning, because everyone has an “estate.”
Your estate includes everything you own, from personal property (clothes, furniture, cars) to insurance policies to real estate (your home, oil & gas interests, etc.), and maybe even a business that you own.
Who Needs Estate Planning?
Who should plan their estate? Again, well, everyone! Estate Planning is how you go about protecting and benefiting the ones that you love. It's the way that you ensure that things get done the way that you wish, even if you are no longer around to watch over those things.
A thorough and comprehensive Estate Plan need not be complicated or expensive in order to achieve your goals. Sure, a person with a great deal of assets, high net worth, a business, or other complex issues might very well need a more extensive estate plan. But everyone is different, so a well-designed plan will need to be “custom-fit” for your needs.
The Attorneys at McBride & Associates will help you design a thorough and comprehensive Estate Plan that is perfect for you and your family.
How Will Estate Planning Help?
Why plan your estate? Well, here are just a few of the benefits of a good plan:
- Name Your Beneficiaries - express who gets what if you die, even when and how they are to receive their inheritance.
- Name Your Fiduciaries – pick who will take care of your affairs if you become incapacitated/incompetent or were to die.
- Avoid Expensive Court Proceedings – minimize and even stop probates, guardianships, and court fights.
- Select Guardians – name who will take care of your minor children if you cannot.
- Settle Your Estate Quickly – fast and efficient estate settlement is a crucial benefit of good estate planning.
- Protect Your Business – business succession and continuity planning are an absolute must for every business owner.
- Pick Your Medical Decision-Maker – define who will make medical decisions for you, if you cannot do so for yourself.
The most important benefit of a good Estate Plan is to allow you to remain in control. Your Plan allowsyou to decide who will be your fiduciaries (the persons who handle your estate) and beneficiaries (who will receive your estate assets).
If you don't have a good estate plan when you become incapacitated or pass away, Oklahoma law (not you!) will determine who and how things will be handled. While Oklahoma law provides a marginally adequate set of rules to handle your affairs, there are problems.
Our state laws will serve as a sort of default of how and when your affairs will be handled, if you don't ever write down your wishes in proper way. Unfortunately, this default system, compared to a good estate plan, is often more complicated, much slower to complete, and far, far more expensive. Worse yet, the Oklahoma default rules may not fit your wishes at all!
Don't just assume things will automatically work out the way that you want. This is especially true for married couples who frequently, and wrongly, assume that one spouse will get the benefit of the entire estate should the other become ill or pass away. This is a dangerously wrong assumption that could lead to disaster.
Our attorneys at McBride & Associates will educate you about the process, help you decide what is best for you, and ensure that your goals are met.
Common Estate Planning Devices
Every person’s estate planning goals are unique, so every plan will require specific techniques and tools to achieve those goals. At McBride & Associates, P.C., our attorneys have a litany of tools we can use to protect your legacy and help you convey your wishes in powerful documents.
Here are just a few of the tools you will likely need as part of your complete estate plan:
- Wills. The Last Will and Testament, or “Will” for short, is one of the most common estate planning tools. In it, you to determine who receives your assets upon your death, and who will handle the settling of your estate. Remember, your Will has no legal affect until it is admitted to probate (presented to court in a formal proceeding, called a “probate”).
- Trusts. The Revocable Living Trust, or “Trust” for short, is one of the most powerful and effective estate planning tools. You can define in your fiduciaries and beneficiaries, yet you can do much more. There are many types of trusts. One of the major benefits of trusts are that they don't require the involvement of a court. If properly designed and used, they allow you to avoid expensive and time-consuming probates, guardianships, and possible court fights.
- Powers of Attorney. A Power of Attorney is a legal tool where one person, called the “Principal,” gives another person, called the “Attorney-in-Fact,” the power to take care of some matter. They are very helpful if you, the Principal, were to ever become incapacitated. This tool is often used in conjunction with your Trust.
- Healthcare Directives. Healthcare Directives are actually a collection of legal tools addressing your personal wishes regarding healthcare. They often include a Medical Power of Attorney where you pick someone to make decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so. Another important tool, called a Living Will allows you to express whether you wish to receive life-prolonging treatment if you hopelessly sick or injured.
- Prenuptial Agreements. A Prenuptial Agreement is written contract between two persons, made before they are married. This contract defines how certain assets and matters will be handled should the parties ever divorce. Yet, the “PreNup,” as it is often called, allows to parties to ensure their estates are managed in the way that each wish, if one or both of them were to pass away. So, they are not just for divorce. Today, Blended Families, where one or both spouses have children from previous relationships, are very common. Blended Families, frequently with the inclusion of Trusts, can greatly benefit from the use of a PreNup.
- Business Succession Plans. Business Succession Plans are a collection of tools and strategies to ensure that your business survives and even flourishes if you were to get sick or die. If you have put endless time and money into your business, you are not likely willing to let it die—even if you are no longer the one to manage it. With an effective business succession plan, you can ensure the person or entity you trust has the rights and responsibilities needed to continue growing your business. You can also ensure an easy transition of the control and ownership of one of you most valuable asset to those you wish to receive it.
These are just a few of the tools we may use to accomplish your estate planning goals. To get started, just contact us to schedule a time to discuss your estate in detail. Remember, there's no cost or obligation to meet with us and learn your options.*
*The first hour is free, most initial meetings last about one hour.
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