When people in Kansas or Oklahoma want to create an estate plan, they often have questions about whether or not they have to file or register their plans with a government office. To understand this question, we need to understand what the estate planning process encompasses, and what it is that you will be creating as you create an estate plan. Every piece of the plan you create has its own rules associated with it, and though no single answer can apply to every piece you create, there are some general principles to know when it comes to filing your estate plan.
Do I have to file or register my estate plan to make it legal?
The idea of “filing” or “registering” your estate plan seems like it makes sense. After all, these are important legal documents you’re making. Registering these documents with a state or federal government agency seems like a reasonable step.
The reality, however, is that you don’t really need to file or register most of your estate planning tools. For example, when you create a last will and testament, you are under no legal obligation to file that document with a county courthouse, state government office, or federal government agency. In fact, as long as you remain mentally sound and ensure that your last will and testament meets all relevant legal standards, you are free to make, destroy, revise, and change your will at any time without any government intervention or participation whatsoever.
When will I have to file my estate plan?
Again, the answer to this question depends on the specific estate planning tool we are talking about. For example, even though you are under no legal obligation to file or register your last will and testament, the document does have to comply with specific laws. In order for court to accept it as a valid expression of your last wishes, a probate court judge will have to review the document before accepting it. This means that, after you die, someone will have to go before a local probate court, submit your will, and ask the court to review it.
If I don’t have to file my plan, how will people know it is legal?
To be absolutely sure that you have created a legally effective estate plan, it’s always in your best interest to create a plan only after speaking to your lawyer. Your attorney will guide you to the process of creating each of your estate planning tools, and will make sure those tools comply with the relevant laws. So, if you want to create a legally effective estate plan, you should talk to your attorney as soon as possible.
Parman & Easterday