We believe estate planning is something you do for the people you love. We all know someone who has lost someone close to them or have lost someone ourselves. These times can be intensely bitter with grief. Just as night follows day, though, death is a certain and unavoidable part of the circle of life. While the moment of our passing is known only to few of us, that we will pass on is an absolute. The law in Oklahoma recognizes these universal truths and, while it is not perfect, provides a framework for dealing with the material things a person leaves behind. If a person does nothing proactively, the law attempts to provide an orderly way to settle a person’s affairs and attempts to do what the legislature believes that person would have wanted. This is one place where planning and proactive activity can be an act of love.
A person can take steps now to minimize the administrative trauma, expense, and discord that can result from an unplanned estate. There are many tools at a person’s disposal to ensure, as much as is possible, that his or her property is distributed consistently with his or her wishes, as efficiently as possible. Planned and implemented effectively, this can be done fairly quickly, privately, and inexpensively.
Further, we believe that, when considering or discussing the topic of “estate planning”, the focus too often is placed only on property. A person may think that, if he or she has only a very modest estate, they do not need to consider estate planning. Again, this is where estate planning can be an act of love. When we discuss “estate planning”, in addition to the disposition of property, we are discussing planning for the end of a person’s life or other incapacity.
Frequently, person’s death is preceded by a period of incapacity or deteriorating lucidity. Here, again, the law provides a framework to deal with these inevitabilities. For example, if a person no longer is able to take care of him- or herself, a person can petition the court to be appointed the person’s guardian. At a minimum, this will take time, effort, and expense. Some of the same results can be obtained much more efficiently with a durable power of attorney. Like all legal decisions, though, there potentially are pros and cons to either approach, depending on the situation. This is where proactive, meaningful discussions with your legal services provider can help you to create value and peace of mind.
Finally, it is almost always the case that there will be a need to settle the affairs of someone who has passed on, regardless of the planning or lack of planning undertaken by that person. If you have lost someone close to you and are in this situation, we can help you to analyze the situation, identify issues and alternatives, and navigate this often complicated and confusing time and process with you.