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What Actually Is A Will In Oklahoma?

A will is your written instructions to the probate court as to who should receive what you own and who should be in charge of your estate. In a will, you can (and should) tell the court not only who you would like to have in charge of your estate, but also who the backup plan would be in case your first choice is not available. It is also possible to have a backup plan to that backup plan in case your second choice is also not available.

For example, you might tell the court “I leave my automobile to my son Robert but if Robert does not then survive me, I’ll leave my automobile to my daughter Jane”, In its most basic terms, a will is a set of instructions for the probate court as to what should happen to your assets when you are deceased.

What Is A Trust? What Makes It A Living Trust?

A trust is legally a contract that controls who receives your assets when you are deceased. It can also state when they receive those assets, and under what limitations they could receive your assets. You might compare it to a corporation. The trust is able to own property and designate rules for the management of the property as well as designate rules for when the property should be distributed to another, and under what circumstances that should happen.

A living trust is a trust that is fully changeable, fully revocable at all times as long as you are alive, and of sound mind. Some people say it is a living trust because you can do anything you want with it while you are alive, other attorneys would say, “We call it a living trust because it is able to change and grow or shrink just as anything else that is alive and would be able to change”.

What Are The Benefits Of A Will Compared To A Trust?

The benefits of a will and the benefits of a trust are exactly opposite. The benefits of passing your estate under your will without a trust is that you have public oversight by a judge over your affairs to assure that what you have instructed to happen actually does happen, and that there is a record of who received what and when they received it, and where all of your money was spent and how it was spent. The benefit of a will is oversight and it is made a public record.

The benefit of a trust is precisely the opposite. Your estate is not subject to review by the judge, there is no public record of what you have owned or who received it, and you retain more privacy and have less oversight. Each person gets to consider these advantages and disadvantages. We can choose for ourselves which way is better for our families; there is no right or wrong answer.

What Are The Drawbacks Associated With A Will?

The drawback of a will is two-fold. The first drawback is the cost of a probate versus trust administration. In recent studies nationwide it shows the cost of a probate running between fourteen to twenty percent of an estate. Those numbers do not hold up in Oklahoma, but that is the nationwide average, and that is terribly expensive. The second drawback of a will is the time it takes to pass your estate. Quite often, a probate will take six months to a year, even if it is not a particularly difficult or complicated probate. That is a lot of time. Often, trust administration is much faster than probate. Those are the two most serious drawbacks of a will.

What Are The Drawbacks Of A Living Trust?

One of the drawbacks of the living trust is that there is the potential of the trustee abusing the secrecy that comes with the trust administration. If your trustee is not very well qualified and not completely honest, there is the possibility that the trustee will not distribute your estate as you have directed. So the greater potential for abuse is a drawback to a living trust. The second drawback of a living trust is that people often believe they have asset protection when they have a living trust, but they do not. A living trust offers no asset protection at all. Asset protection requires a different type of trust. So the misconception of what a living trust can do is one drawback; and the potential for abuse is the second serious drawback.

For more information on Wills In Oklahoma, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (405) 754-4166 today.

Terrell Monks, Esq. - Estate Planning Attorney, Edmond City

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