This is the first article in the series that discusses some basic estate planning tools, which at a minimum ought to be included in every estate plan.  A plethora of reasons can trigger the need for an estate plan.  Some are tax-related, while others aim at making the probate process smoother for grieving family members.  Irrespective of the size of your estate, having a well-crafted plan in place gives you immense peace of mind, ensuring that your intent will be carried out and the assets distributed according to your wishes.  Additionally, it allows for an appointment of a guardian or creation of a testamentary trust ensuring that a minor or a disabled beneficiary is well taken care of.

Estate planning can often seem complex, confusing, and even intimidating.  My overall goal is to demystify the process by giving you a brief overview of various tools and processes that I believe must be an essential part of every estate plan.  Naturally, every case is unique, and each estate plan has its distinct goals.  While these discussions provide valuable insights, they do not serve as a substitute for a meticulously crafted estate plan prepared by an experienced attorney.  Additionally, I hope to provide information that will help you in selecting an attorney to assist with wills and estate planning.  If you or a loved one is looking for an estate planning attorney, please contact us online or by telephone to schedule an initial consultation.

Some of the estate planning tools I will be discussing in my upcoming posts are:

  • How to make a will in Oklahoma?
  • How to make a power of attorney in Oklahoma?
  • How to make a healthcare power of attorney in Oklahoma?
  • What is an advanced directive?

Each post in this series is aimed at explaining a particular tool, its purpose, and the pertinent legal requirements.  The next post will explain the concept of will and the process of creating a will in Oklahoma.  Since the validity of a hand-written will is one of the most frequently asked questions, I will address this issue.  Under Oklahoma law, a written will must be subscribed by the person making the will and must be witnessed by two witnesses.  I will explain the formalities of a simple will and further discuss how it differs from a self-proved will.  Please note that while Oklahoma law does not require a simple will to be notarized, a self-proved will must be notarized.

In the subsequent post, I will discuss the power of attorney.  This legal document allows another person to take care of your financial and legal affairs.  There are two types: a regular power of attorney and a durable power of attorney.  We will discuss the differences between these two types and the specific legal requirements that must be followed.

Moving on to the next post, I will discuss the medical power of attorney.  This important legal document allows you to appoint another person to make healthcare decisions for you.  Similar to the regular power of attorney, there are two types: one that remains valid as long as you can make your own decisions and another one that stays valid even if you become incapacitated.  Both of these documents must be signed by the principal and witnessed by two individuals.

In the next post, I will explain what an advanced directive is.  This document is comprised of two components combined into one: a living will and an appointment of a healthcare proxy.  Contrary to what many people believe, a living will is not an actual will.  It provides specific directions to attending doctors on how to proceed if you are ever placed on life support.  Similarly, appointing a healthcare proxy allows another person to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself.  An advanced directive must be signed by the declarant and witnessed by two individuals.

Another reason for this series is to equip you with the information needed to find an attorney should you or a loved one require assistance with an estate plan.  Whether you need basic estate planning tools or a more comprehensive plan, we are here to help.  Drafting and executing these documents on your own may lead to oversight and errors, potentially resulting in their invalidation.  As an Oklahoma City estate planning lawyer, I can provide the necessary assistance.  Contact my office online or by telephone to schedule a consultation.  We proudly serve Oklahoma County, Logan County, Cleveland County, and Grady County.