Oklahoma City Will Attorneys
Why You Need a Will
Wills are powerful estate planning tools. Your will allows you to identify your heirs and the person who will handle your affairs if you die. Your will is part of your minimum estate plan (along with your power of attorney, and healthcare directives). You still need a will even if you have a trust – but only as a “backup” tool. Wills must go through probate to be activated.
Contact our Oklahoma City will lawyers to draft a will today.
What Is a Will?
Wills are one of the oldest estate planning tools and one of the most familiar. The proper name of this tool is “Last Will and Testament.” This means it is the place where you make your final wishes known (the “last will” part) and where you testify (the “testament” part) to how your affairs are to be handled.
Most of us are aware that your will states who will get your things when you die, and how much each person will get. But, a properly drafted will is going to do much more than that. One of the most important declarations in your will is selecting who will take care of things.
Your Will’s Executor
The person you pick to handle things when you are gone was historically called the “executor” - because that person executes (carries out) your wishes. Today, most jurisdictions refer to that person as the “personal representative,” but it amounts to the same thing.
Interestingly, selecting a list of personal representatives (a first choice and a few backup people) is the most important decision that you will make in your will. It’s probably more important than naming your heirs. This is true because no matter how detailed your will may be in naming your heirs and what each will get at your death, it won’t much matter without the right person handling your estate.
It’s much like having a race car. No matter how fast a race car you have, if you don’t have a good driver, you probably won’t win the race. Your will needs a well-chosen “driver” - your personal representative.
Your will is the legal document where you can do both – state who gets what, and state who will take care of your affairs. But there can, and should, be a lot more to your will than just these minimum expression of your wishes.
The Reliability of a Will
Wills have stayed in continuous use for so long because they are tried-and-true legal tools. Your will’s reliability comes from centuries of use in many countries. In Oklahoma, we have always had wills, and our system for using them is very well matured.
Making a properly drafted and well-thought-out will with your attorney will allow you to avoid having to use the default rules and laws of intestate succession. These rules apply to people who don’t have an adequate estate plan. Unfortunately, the intestate succession rules may very well not administer and transfer your estate in the way that you prefer.
Don't Rely Upon Intestate Succession
Intestate succession applies to people much like buying a suit of clothing “off the rack.” That suit is designed to fit the majority of people, but, it fits almost no one perfectly, and some not at all. Intestate succession divides your estate the way our legislature thinks that most people would prefer.
In other words, if you don’t make a will, don’t worry, the legislature has made one for you! Does the default rules under intestate succession do what you want? Maybe, maybe not – you must visit with one of our attorneys to find out.
For example, did you know that if you die without a will, the assets in your sole name don’t all automatically go to your spouse? Instead, those assets are split, with half going to your spouse and the other half to your children. It’s not hard to imagine the problems that will likely arise from such a bizarre situation.
If you and one of our attorneys make your will, you can leave your whole estate to your spouse. You can include a clause that your children will inherit from you only if your spouse were to die before you did.
Your will can do more than this, much more, if you get help from an experienced estate planning attorney. From picking who will be the guardians of your children, to ensuring your spouse’s needs are also met, to dealing with a house, cars, bank accounts, etc. – your Oklahoma City will attorney is going to help you design a will that’s just right for you.
Reach out to us today for your free initial consultation.