An estate plan is a comprehensive approach to providing peace of mind and instructions for life’s uncertainties. Each plan begins with a number of documents to delegate decision-making for your financial and medical affairs to the person(s) of your choosing in the event you become incapacitated or incompetent and cannot make decisions on your own behalf between today’s date and the time you take your last breath. Then, a second set of documents is prepared to assist in transferring ownership of your real and personal property following your death. In totality, these documents are an estate plan. Learn more about each document below.
A Durable Power of Attorney is a document that states who is authorized to make financial and or medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are injured and or ill and thus, unable to manage your own affairs. These documents will allow you to designate a spouse, a partner, a friend, or a family member of your choosing to assist you when you are most vulnerable. If you fail to prepare a Durable Power of Attorney, a court will authorize a person it believes is best to make these decisions for you through what is known as a guardianship proceeding.
A Last Will & Testament is a set of instructions prepared by you which states who shall receive your real and personal property following your death. For parents of minor children, this is document which also states your preference on who should raise your children and look after any monies they may inherit. Without a Last Will & Testament, your assets will pass according to statute in a manner that is inconsistent with your wishes and your children will be raised by the person(s) selected by the judge assigned to your case.
A Revocable Trust is an instrument that allows you to set forth your wishes with respect to the ownership and management of your assets during life and upon your death. It may be amended or revoked during your lifetime. You may extend control of your assets over long periods of time following your death, provide the inheritance outright, and or set conditions for your loved ones to inherit. For example, if your children are college age when you pass away, perhaps they must maintain a certain GPA in order for their tuition bills to be paid or alternatively, perhaps they only receive a small percentage of their inheritance each year and the bulk is held and managed for them until they a certain age/maturity milestone. The options are endless. All of the assets held in trust following your death will also avoid probate. Probate is time-consuming, financially very costly, and your personal financial affairs are public record.
Starting a new business can be an exciting and lucrative endeavor. Choosing the right business model is essential for your success. We have an in-depth understanding of what it takes to bring your business plan from paper to reality. Depending on your objectives, you may choose to operate as a sole proprietorship, general partnership, corporation, or limited liability company. We can walk you through the pros and cons of each model and help you pick the business entity model best suited for your needs and draft the essential paperwork required to get your business up and running.
Business owners must plan for the future and the uncertainties of life. What will happen to your company if you become ill or disabled, choose to retire, or pass away? We can help you create a plan to ensure your business keeps running, your employees are paid, your family is protected financially, and even transition your business to the next generation, an existing business partner, or high level employee. We can also assist if you choose to sale the business.
Sound employment agreements keep businesses running smoothly and with minimal conflicts. For high-level employees, comprehensive agreements clearly explain the responsibilities, rights, and obligations of the employer and employee for the duration of the business relationship. Likewise, employee handbooks incorporate these provisions and more such as, information on benefits and how to contact human resources. Handbooks give employees a glimpse into your company’s culture and simultaneously, assist in protecting the company through clear and consistent statements and uniform procedures.
We offer our business clients competent and comprehensive legal representation.
Conflicts are common in business law. Perhaps a vendor breaches a contract or a client fails to pay an invoice or someone sues your company, what do you do? Call us. We will assist in negotiating settlements, drafting demand letters, filing collection actions, or if necessary, representing your company in civil court from start to finish.
Probate is the process of executing and accepting a last will and testament as valid in a court of law. If you create a will and subsequently pass away, that document will be processed through the probate court system to ensure it is authentic. The length of time it takes to finish the probate of your estate depends on your assets, the size of your estate, your heirs, and whether you have any debt.
When creating a will, it is a good idea to name a personal representative to settle the affairs of your estate after you die. If you do not name an individual, one will be appointed by a district court judge. If the value of your estate, fewer liens, and encumbrances, is $50,000 or less, your heirs may be able to claim the property with a small estate affidavit, avoiding probate entirely.
Oklahoma also has a simplified probate process for estates valued at $200,000 or less. If your estate qualifies for this process, your heirs will be able to enjoy your legacy without having to go through the standard and often time-consuming process of normal probate. For more information on what probate administration entails, consult with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney.
While every probate case is different, generally the process involves the following steps:
If you are an heir or beneficiary and you disagree with the probate process, you may be able to file a will contest. Common grounds for will contests include fraud, testator incompetence, undue influence, and discovery of a later will.
Representing beneficiaries, heirs, and relatives of deceased persons, our firm provides reliable trust administration services, including tax filings, paying bills, and maintaining detailed financial records. Using a living trust, you can protect and manage assets during your lifetime. You can appoint yourself as the trustee and have trust property transfer to beneficiaries upon your death. Only the assets within the trust will be distributed through the trust administration process.
You may also name a trustee of your choosing to oversee the process. In most cases, the trust administration process takes place out of court. However, in the event that beneficiaries believe a trustee is not performing his/her duties, a legal claim, and therefore litigation, may be sought.
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