Who Should Make A Will?
Generally speaking, adults in Oklahoma, particularly those with children or assets, should make a will. A will tells the court who you want to have control over your assets and who you trust to care for your children. You may also use the will to put some control over the distribution of your money. It is rarely wise to hand your estate over to an 18 year old, but that could happen if you do not make a will and give the court guidance as to what you want.
What Makes People Avoid Setting Up A Will?
In my experience, people avoid making a will because they do not like to think there will come a day when they will need one. “Old” is always 15 years away. That mentality overlooks the known but unexpected risks of car accidents, heart attacks, and the normal occurrences of everyday life. But I kind of understand this mentality because my own parents did not work on their estate plan until they were facing serious surgeries. That is not, however, the best time to make a will. Your mind is not as clear when you are given a harsh diagnosis. You do not have the greatest peace or wisdom when you are under severe stress. Do not fall into that trap of always putting off the plan that you know will someday truly be needed by your family.
What Can And Cannot Be Included In A Will?
First, almost all of your assets can be included in a will. You are free to direct the court on who should receive your cash, your automobiles, and your real estate. That does not mean, however, that every direction you put into your will is going to be effected. For example, if your life insurance has a beneficiary designation that designation form will control who receives the life insurance money even if your will says something altogether different. Likewise, many bank accounts have provisions for joint tenants or beneficiaries who will receive upon your death and those designations will control even if your will says something altogether contrary. If your accounts, such as your bank accounts and your life insurance accounts, do not have beneficiary designation forms or joint tenancy or payable on debt provisions, it is possible that your will both can and should give the courts guidance as to where those assets will go. Further, if your beneficiary designation form fails to be effected, perhaps because the death of your named beneficiary, your will can serve as a backup plan for that designation. Therefore there is an argument that your will should contain provisions addressing assets that you do not even expect to flow under the will.
Does A Will Address Having A Customized Plan Should Someone Become Incapacitated?
Unfortunately the unequivocal answer for this question is no, your will does not have any helpful provisions covering incapacitation or serious medical issues. Your will, at least in Oklahoma, becomes effective only when you pass away. All of the provisions in your will, are really completely ineffective throughout your lifetime. Having a customized plan to cover incapacity is an excellent idea, but it should not become part of your will. That is why it is important to have a comprehensive estate plan and not just a will. Provisions covering incapacitation or serious medical conditions might be found in your advanced directive for healthcare, your medical power of attorney, your nomination of guardian, and related documents. In these documents, and perhaps accompanying your trust, you can and should give your family guidance as to how your money should be spent if you suffer severe medical issues. Please keep in mind that we offer estate planning packages that make a customized plan much more affordable than if the individual items were to be done separately.
How Often Should People Give Their Will A Check Up?
It is wise to review your will at least once every two years, even if nothing important has happened during that time. Two years is long enough that your memory of the details may have faded and your life may have changed. If you have calendared a review of your will, it is much more likely that you will pull that document out, review it and find anything that needs to be changed. You should also review your will every time something important happens to your family. If the person you nominated as your executor goes to jail, it is time to review your will. If your child leaves his or her spouse and begins to use illegal drugs, it is probably time to review your will. If your child should become divorced, incapacitated, receive a serious medical diagnosis, or get in trouble with the Internal Revenue Service, it is absolutely time to review your estate plan. If you should experience a serious medical diagnosis, suffer financial setbacks, anticipate a divorce, or otherwise see that life is getting ready to make an abrupt change, it is time for you to review and revise your estate plan.
For more information on Need For Creating Wills, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (405) 754-4166 today.
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