At Postic & Bates, our attorneys have provided estate planning services to clients for over 36 years. Although online and "Do It Yourself" estate planning programs have gained some popularity in recent years, estate planning is not a "one-size-fits-all" proposition. Our attorneys offer the expertise and experience necessary to help you ensure that your assets will be protected and distributed according to your wishes.
There are a number of estate planning documents and options available. Some of the more common documents we prepare for clients are:
A living trust (also called an inter vivos trust or a revocable trust) is a powerful estate planning tool that allows you to fully control your assets during your lifetime and fully provide for how you want those assets to be distributed after your death. A properly-funded trust can also eliminate the need for your heirs to go through the timely and expensive court process known as probate. Probate in Oklahoma takes four months to a year, and even a small estate can cost $4,000 or more to administer. With a trust, assets can generally be distributed in 30 to 60 days after your death for a fraction of the cost.
Last Wills and Testaments
While you may have told your family how you want your estate distributed upon your death, your wishes will not be legally enforceable unless written in a document such as a last will and testament or a living trust. In addition to providing how your estate will be distributed, a last will and testament can allow you to appoint a guardian for your minor children. If you do not name a guardian, a court decides who will raise your children. Although a last will and testament is still subject to probate at your death, it is an important estate planning document. Without it, the law decides who will receive your assets—you won't get a say in the matter!
(Read our blog post about important differences between a Will and a Trust)
Durable Powers of Attorney
We prepare two types of power of attorney: one for financial purposes and one for health care purposes. A financial power of attorney can be very general, meaning the person named can do anything you could have done, such as sign checks, sign deeds, and transfer titles. A financial power of attorney can also be very specific, such as naming someone to act as your agent in a real estate closing transaction.
A health care power of attorney is one of the most important estate planning documents you can have. Most married people assume that their spouses will have the right to make medical and other health-related decisions for them if they are incapacitated, but the law does not make that assumption. Without a power of attorney, healthcare professionals will make those decisions. And without a power of attorney containing the proper HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) language, your spouse or other designated representative might not even be able to review your medical records.
And Much, Much, More...
There are many estate planning documents and options available. To help you navigate the process, we offer a free estate planning guide that you can download by clicking the button below or by calling our office. The attorneys at Postic & Bates also offer free, no-obligation office consultations where we can discuss your estate planning needs and help you decide what solution works best for you. Contact our office today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation appointment.