Will

Estate Planning for Young Professionals

Estate Planning for Young Professionals

If you are a young professional, estate planning is probably not even on your radar.

And why on earth should you have to think about it?

You’re young.

You don’t have many assets.

You’re single (and your grandma keeps reminding you about it).

Your family knows what you want.

You have other things to worry about.

You’re going to live forever.

However, estate planning is just as important (if not more important) for single young professionals as for older, wealthier, married-ier individuals.

But how do you create an estate plan? Where should you start? It’s a big question. Lucky for you, we have already done the heavy lifting. Here are 4 quick estate planning tips for young professionals:

1. Get a Durable Power of Attorney

In short, a Durable Power of Attorney is an estate planning document that gives someone (your “Attorney-in-Fact”) the ability to act for you in certain financial and/or medical situations.

“Why is this useful?” you may be yell-asking at your computer screen. And that’s a great question.

What is a Last Will and Testament?

What is a Last Will and Testament?

Remember that scene in The Matrix where Morpheus offers Neo a red pill or a blue pill?

Morpheus (a Yoda-like figure) tells Neo (the Luke Skywalker of the movie, as it were) that the reality he had been living in was a lie. (I like Star Wars a lot.)

He then offers Neo two pills — one red, one blue — and tells him that if he takes the blue pill, he will wake up tomorrow and go on with life as usual. But if he takes the red pill, he will “wake up” (both literally and figuratively) and learn just how deep the rabbit hole goes.

The catch? If Neo takes the red pill, he can never go back to the way things were. You can’t close Pandora’s Box once it has been opened.

Needless to say, Neo takes the red pill and proceeds to become the Chosen One and kill robots for three movies. It’s great.

I often think of that scene when someone asks me a question about estate planning. Because that rabbit hole is pretty deep, folks. And I’m an attorney, so there’s always a chance you won’t be able to shut that Pandora’s Box.

But for you, I’ll do my best to keep things short and sweet.

In my last blog post, I talked about trusts: what they are, what they do, why you should have one. I also spent some time discussing how trusts are different than wills. So now, given that comparison, it only seems fair that I talk about wills.

What's the Difference Between a Will and a Living Will?

What's the Difference Between a Will and a Living Will?

Estate planning can get confusing. We attorneys use crazy words like testator, corpus, inter vivos, and per stirpes. That's right: some of our terms are so weird, we have to italicize them.

Things get even more confusing when one estate planning term sounds just like another. So it's not surprising whenever our clients ask whether a Last Will and Testament and a Living Will are the same thing (or are at least similar).

The short answer: They are not the same thing. Not even close.

Before we dive in to the distinctions, here is a summary of what we will cover in this post:

You can click the links above to skip to that particular section, or just scroll down the page a bit. It's not a long article.

Anthony Bourdain and Estate Plans for Separated Spouses

Anthony Bourdain and Estate Plans for Separated Spouses

In the wake of celebrity chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain's tragic death last week, many articles have been written about his complicated family situation, specifically that Bourdain and wife were permanently separated (but not divorced) at the time of his death.

Like death, divorce and separation are topics nobody likes to talk about. However, they have very different effects on an estate plan. In Anthony Bourdain's case, that leaves a host of estate planning issues unresolved — and millions of dollars up for grabs.

This blog post will discuss the impact of divorce and separation on estate planning, focusing on the following topics:

What is the difference between divorce and legal separation?

Why choose legal separation over divorce?

Can a spouse still inherit after a legal separation?

How can I protect my estate from a separation?

How to Recognize Fraud in Estate Planning

How to Recognize Fraud in Estate Planning

Suppose your mother has dementia. Her nurse convinces her that he is her only child and has her sign estate planning documents leaving all of her assets to him and expressly disinheriting you and any of her other children. Are those documents valid? Likely not, as your mother has been the victim of fraud.

What is fraud?

There are several ways fraud can be committed in the estate planning process, but the type of fraud we will discuss in this article is referred to as fraudulent inducement. Let's say your mother executed a Last Will and Testament. You could challenge that Will if your mother was fraudulently induced into leaving her property to a person she would not normally have left it (in the example above, the nurse).

4 Tips to Identify Undue Influence

4 Tips to Identify Undue Influence

Imagine your father is elderly, handicapped, and requires in-home care. He develops a close relationship with his caretaker, who is much younger than he is. When your father passes away, you assume that all his assets will be left to you and your siblings. However, the caretaker comes forward with a Will signed by your dad a week before his death — and it leaves everything to her! Seems fishy, right? This is a classic case of undue influence.

What is Undue Influence?

In Oklahoma, undue influence consists of taking an unfair advantage of another's weakness of mind or body or the use of authority to procure an unfair advantage over someone. Put another way, undue influence occurs when someone exerts pressure on an individual, causing him or her to act contrary to his or her wishes and to the benefit of the influencer.

Can you have a handwritten Will?

Can you have a handwritten Will?

The handwritten Will is a commonly misunderstood area of estate planning. Under Oklahoma Statutes title 84, section 54, a holographic Will (as it is known in Oklahoma) can be a valid testamentary instrument if it is: (1) entirely written by the Testator, (2) dated, and (3) signed by the Testator. Sounds simple enough, right?

What are the problems with a handwritten Will?

But Oklahoma courts are very strict in interpreting holographic Wills. For instance, what if part of the document is typed, while the rest is handwritten? What if some of it was written on one date, then some more was written on another? Where does the signature have to be located on the document? Where does the date have to be located? How should you describe your assets and beneficiaries? Do the pages need to be stapled or clipped together?