power of attorney

What's on Your Estate Planning “Bucket List”

What's on Your Estate Planning “Bucket List”

Everybody knows what a “bucket list” is, right?

It’s a list (duh) of things you want to do before you die (i.e. “kick the bucket”). I won’t get into the weeds about the concept, so if you want to learn more about bucket lists and also ugly-cry through two boxes of Kleenex, watch the 2007 film The Bucket List with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.

But back to the blog.

Just as you and Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson have a bucket list for life, you should also have a bucket list for estate planning. Ask yourself: What do I need to do to arrange my affairs before I die?

Estate planning is about more than just legal documents. A good plan means accounting for your assets and providing the information, documents, and knowledge necessary to ensure a smooth transfer of those assets to the people you want to have them.

To help you create your own estate planning bucket list, here are 10 tips you can use to organize your estate before you die:

1. Get a Will or Trust.

Of course the first item on the bucket list is to create an actual estate plan. I’m an estate planning attorney writing on an estate planning blog. What did you expect?

Formal estate planning documents such as a Last Will and Testament or a Living Trust are crucial to make the administration of your estate as easy as possible. Without them, your estate could be tied up in messy probate — in some cases for years.

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.

11 Estate Planning New Year's Resolutions

11 Estate Planning New Year's Resolutions

There’s nothing quite like the new year to make you think of fresh possibilities and new beginnings.

There’s also nothing quite like way too much turkey, wine, and football over the holidays to make you realize that you should maybe consider some lifestyle changes.

You have probably already started on your list of new year’s resolutions for 2019: read more, get a gym membership (and actually use it this time), spend more time with family, etc. And those are great resolutions. “New year, new me” and all that jazz.

But there is one more goal you should add to your list: organize your estate plan.

While most resolutions are about helping your self, an estate plan is about helping your loved ones. To make it easier for you to set your affairs in order, we created this handy list of 11 Estate Planning Resolutions for 2019:

1. Execute a Trust and/or a Will

You, like a majority of Americans, may not have a living trust or a last will and testament. You may not even know what those documents are. Which one is better? Which one is right for you? What are the differences between a will and a trust?

Both a trust and a will control what happens to your estate — your property, your “stuff” — after your death. However, there is one huge difference between the two: a trust avoids probate, while a will does not.

Yes, even if you have a will, your estate must still go through probate after your death.

Remember that there are two main sides to estate planning: (1) What happens to your “stuff” when you die and (2) who takes care of your self when you become incapacitated. You can solve the first part of that equation in 2019 by creating a trust or a will.

Get Our FREE 2018 Estate Planning Checklist

Get Our FREE 2018 Estate Planning Checklist

Prepare yourself to be shocked: 2018 is almost over.

If you’re like me, you’re looking forward to a few weeks of Christmas carols, football, family, bowl games, presents, and (best of all) football.

This is also a great time to look back on the year that was:

Perhaps you started a new job or got a raise; maybe you made an addition (by birth or marriage) or subtraction (by death or divorce) to the family; or maybe you purchased a house, received a windfall inheritance, or started a new business.

Life can change a lot in a year.

But do those life changes mean you need to make changes to your estate plan?

To help you answer that question, we have put together a 10-question checklist to review your estate plan.

Estate Planning for Entrepreneurs

Estate Planning for Entrepreneurs

As an entrepreneur, your life is often consumed by your business. But have you stopped to consider what would happen to your business if you are injured?

If you come down with an illness?

If you suddenly die?

Entrepreneurs who fail to create an estate plan leave their life’s work at risk of being torn apart or lost entirely after they are gone. To keep that from happening, here are a few estate planning documents every entrepreneur should consider:

Married With Children: Estate Planning for Young Families

Married With Children: Estate Planning for Young Families

When you have a kid, everything else usually takes a back seat. There's often no time for fun things like hobbies or other activities and definitely no time for un-fun things estate planning.

But what would happen to your child if you and your spouse suddenly died or became incapacitated? Who will take care of your child's medical needs and daily care? Who will manage your assets until your child reaches adulthood?

A well-crafted estate plan can address these issues and more, and ensure that your kids are taken care of after you are gone.

No Kids? Why You Still Need an Estate Plan

No Kids? Why You Still Need an Estate Plan

Many young couples think that, if they don't have kids, they don't need an estate plan. After all, if you die, everything is going to your spouse anyway, right? Not always.

What happens if we don't have an estate plan?

If you are married with no kids, and you do not have an estate plan or prenuptial agreement providing otherwise, the law in Oklahoma says that everything you have goes to your spouse. However, as we have discussed before, your spouse must still go through probate before he or she can actually get your assets. This is the case even if you have a Last Will and Testament providing that your spouse gets everything.

Single and Ready to Mingle With Estate Planning

Single and Ready to Mingle With Estate Planning

I'm single with no kids. Do I need an estate plan?

This scenario describes a lot of Millennials, and the short answer to the question is yes. Having an estate plan is a good idea no matter your family situation. Remember that there are two sides of estate planning: What happens to your STUFF when you die and who takes care of your SELF when you become incapacitated. Both aspects of estate planning matter, whether you are married with a large family or single with no kids.

What is a Power of Attorney?

What is a Power of Attorney?

Kanye West once said that no one man should have all that power. Fortunately for 'Ye, one man doesn't have to have all that power if he has an essential estate planning document called a Durable Power* of Attorney. (*This was most likely the "power" Kanye was referring to in his hit song, "Power".)

What does a power of attorney do?

Generally speaking, a power of attorney gives someone (your "attorney-in-fact") the ability to act for you in financial and/or medical situations. In other words, one man doesn't have to have all that power — he can share it with someone else. This authority can be limited in scope, e.g., a single real estate transaction; or it can be broad, e.g., any and all healthcare and financial decisions.

What is Estate Planning?

What is Estate Planning?

Most people have been told that they need an estate plan, but what exactly IS estate planning? What does it mean to have an estate plan, and why is it important to have one? Although estate planning is a very broad subject, it can be boiled down to this: An estate plan helps ensure that the proper people can take care of your SELF in the event of your incapacity and that the proper people get your STUFF in the event of your death. An estate plan includes several key aspects:

1. Formal documents

You have most likely heard of two very common estate-planning documents: a Last Will and Testament and a Living Trust. These documents say what happens to your STUFF after you die. Importantly, a Will is still subject to probate after your death; however, a properly funded Trust can avoid probate.