As the holidays get closer, it’s time to start thinking about all the reasons you’re thankful for your family and what gifts you plan to put under the Christmas tree. As you think about what gifts your family will love, we’re here to tell you about the best gift you can give your family – a plan! You have a plan for dinner, a planned-out schedule for the week, but do you have a plan in place to protect you and your family if something were to happen to you?
We all do it. We like to avoid thinking about all of the bad things that can happen in life, but having a plan in place can make things so much easier on your family if the worst does happen. Having a plan allows you to be in charge of choosing who would make decisions for you if you couldn’t make decisions for yourself, and it allows you to protect your family in the event something were to happen to you. So how do you prepare yourself and your family for the worst? You get an estate plan.
Durable Powers of Attorney
Oftentimes people think of estate planning as getting a Last Will and Testament or a Trust to divide up assets if they pass away. However, estate planning is a way to prepare for your own life too. A financial power of attorney allows you to name who you would want to manage your finances and assets if you couldn’t, while a health care power of attorney allows you to name who would make your medical decisions if you couldn’t make those decisions yourself. A power of attorney can also name a guardian for your little one(s) to care for them if you are unable to care for them yourself.
Powers of attorney are important for two reasons. First, powers of attorney can help your family avoid a costly court hearing if you became incapacitated. Although powers of attorney aren’t a 100% guarantee to keep your family out of court, if you don’t have them and become incapacitated, your family could end up in court trying to get a court-ordered guardianship so they can care for you. Second, powers of attorney put you in charge of naming who you would want to make decisions for you if you couldn’t care for yourself. If you don’t declare who you want to make decisions for you, the state of Oklahoma (through a statute) and a judge will decide for you.
Naming a Guardian for Your Little One(s)
You know your children best. You know what they like; you know what they don’t like. You also know who they like, who would care for them best if you couldn’t. This is why it’s so important for young families to get estate planning. If you have an estate plan, you can name who would care for your little one(s) if you couldn’t.
Although this can be a difficult decision to make, the alternative is to stay quiet and let your family fight it out in court if the worst does happen. Making a guardianship nomination in your estate plan lets your voice be heard and gives you the power to say who you think would be best to care for your child(ren). Although this selection is not binding on the court, it’s strong evidence for why that person should be appointed to care for your child(ren).
When families lose a loved one, they need time to grieve and process what has just happened in their lives. Having a plan in place gives your family the room to grieve, as well as hopefully helping them avoid instantly jumping into a legal battle.
Protect Your 18-Year-Old From Blowing Their Inheritance on a Ferrari
Minors under the age of 18 can’t own property. That is why a guardian must be appointed to manage a minor’s finances if the minor child receives an inheritance. However, as soon as the minor hits 18, all bets are off—your child gets the key to his or her inheritance. If you think back to how you were with money when you were 18, that’s a scary thought.
By planning ahead, you can control when and how your child will receive his or her inheritance. You can do this by placing your child’s inheritance in a trust and having a trustee (a manager) manage his or her money. You can then get pretty creative with how and when you would like your child to receive his or her inheritance: offer incentives to go to college, select an age when your child will receive an inheritance outright, keep your child’s share in trust indefinitely to provide future protection. Keeping the inheritance in trust doesn’t mean your child won’t see any of the money. The trustee will be there to provide for your child’s needs, but it does mean that you can try and protect your child from being irresponsible with a large chunk of money. Only by planning ahead can you protect your children and potentially prevent them from blowing all of the inheritance you left behind for them on a fancy car.
Estate planning can be scary and intimidating. It can be overwhelming to meet with an attorney to talk about your death – not to mention, estate planning costs money. However, the cost of not planning is so much higher! Protect yourself and your family today by contacting an estate planning attorney.
Stephanie Alleman and Chantelle Hickman-Ladd are attorneys at Alleman Law Firm where they practice estate planning, probate, and elder law. The ladies of Alleman Law came together because they wanted to provide a personalized experience for their clients. Their favorite part of the job is getting to know each client individually so that they can better accomplish their client’s goals. If you want more information about Stephanie and Chantelle and Alleman Law Firm visit www.elderlawokc.com.