There are people that are under the impression that the government will step in and take care of everything if you fail to put an estate plan in place. Many of these individuals intend to execute some type of strategy in the future. However, they are in no hurry, because they feel as though there is a safety net.
If you were to die without a will or a trust, in a legal sense, the condition of intestacy would exist. Under these circumstances, it is true that the state would step in to provide supervision during the estate administration process.
Oklahoma Intestate Succession Scenarios
The court would appoint a personal representative to act as the hands-on administrator. Creditors would be notified about your passing, and valid final debts would be paid from assets that comprise the estate.
Ultimately, the court would approve of the distribution of the assets using the Oklahoma intestate succession laws. That may sound neat and tidy, but your true wishes may not be carried out if you fail to plan.
For example, if you are married and you have no children, you would probably want your surviving spouse to inherit all of your intestate property. In our state, this would not happen if you die intestate and you have a parent that is still living.
Your spouse would inherit all of the property acquired by joint effort during the marriage, but they would only receive 33% of the remaining property. The rest would go to your parent or parents.
This is just one of many scenarios that can play out that may not be consistent with your true wishes. There is no reason to take risks with intestacy when affordable legal counsel is just a phone call away.
Another thing to consider is the state’s potential role in your life if you were to become incapacitated as a senior citizen. You should be aware of the fact that a very significant percentage of people in their 80s become unable to make sound decisions on their own.
How significant? Over 30 percent of elderly people contract Alzheimer’s disease. This is not the only cause of dementia, and cognitive impairment is not the only form of incapacity.
If you do nothing to prepare for incapacity, the state could appoint a guardian to manage your affairs. Thus, you would become a ward.
Most people would prefer to choose someone to act as their representative in advance. Unfortunately, far too many fail to take action when they can.
You do not have to be one of them, because you can include an incapacity planning component within your estate plan. When it comes to financial decision-making, you could use a living trust to state your final wishes and name a disability trustee.
A durable power of attorney for property could be added to empower someone to handle assets that you never conveyed into the trust.
You can also name someone to handle your financial decision-making through the execution of a health care durable power of attorney.
Advance directives are part of this equation as well. With a living will, you can state your wishes regarding the utilization of life-sustaining measures if you are ever in a terminal condition with no hope of recovery.
We Are Here to Help!
As you can see, if you roll the dice without an estate plan, unintended negative consequences can come about. Statistics show that most people are completely unprepared. One of the reasons why they procrastinate is because they really do not know where to begin.
This is understandable to some extent, but we are here to simplify the process for you. One of our Oklahoma City or Tulsa estate planning lawyers would be glad to gain an understanding of your situation and provide you with recommendations. At the end of the process, we’ll create a perfect, custom crafted estate plan for you and your family.
You can schedule a consultation appointment in Oklahoma City right now if you give us a call at 405-843-6100. You can reach the Tulsa location at 918-615-2700. There is also a contact form on this site you can use to send us a message. If you reach out electronically, you will receive a prompt response.
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