Everyone should give some thought to preparing an estate plan. At its simplest, an estate plan is nothing more than a list of instructions regarding your values and valuables. These instructions are then used to help make decisions about your medical care, your property, and your family.
Estate Planning for Medical Care
With estate planning for medical care, we are concerned about two types of events. First, the “end-of-life” decisions – how much or how little life-sustaining medical treatment do you want to receive, and what person or persons get to make those decisions? Second, is there someone you would like to involve with your regular, ongoing medical treatment? In Oklahoma, we recommend the use of the following documents to answer these questions:
- Oklahoma Advance Directive for Health Care. (This statutory living will form is located at Oklahoma Statutes Title 63 Public Health and Safety Section 3101.4);
- Oklahoma Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Consent Form (This statutory DNR form is located at Oklahoma Statutes Title 64 Public Health and Safety Section 3131.5 and is considered optional);
- Medical Durable Power of Attorney (This is a non-statutory form drafted by us that meets various legal requirements.); and
- Authorization for Release of Protected Health Information (This is a non-statutory form prepared by us that meets the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA requirements.
For more information on this topic, please see our Quick Start Guide for Oklahoma Estate Planning and Elder Law – Part 2.
Estate Planning for Property
It is essential that every person give some thought and consideration to the distribution of their property after their death and plan accordingly. As a backup, the State of Oklahoma has a plan on how to allocate your property. Unfortunately, there is an excellent chance that you won’t like it.
One of the problems with estate planning for your property is that there are different legal ways to describe the property. For example, it can be tangible or intangible, personalty or realty, vested or contingent – to name a few. But for estate planning purposes, the litmus test is quite simple: do you have to sign some paperwork that authorizes someone to buy, sell, or otherwise manage the property? Common types of property that provide a “yes” answer include:
- Certificate of title for a car, truck, motorcycle, boat, or other motor vehicles;
- Real estate such as a house, family farm, mineral interests, residential real estate or commercial real estate;
- Bank accounts such as checking, savings, certificates-of-deposits (CD’s), or money-market accounts;
- Stocks, bonds and mutual funds held in investment accounts, or retirement accounts (i.e., Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, 401k plans, 403b plans); or
- Ownership in a small business or closely-held business.
In Oklahoma, we recommend the following documents be considered to help with the administration of these assets:
- General Durable Power of Attorney (Both statutory and non-statutory forms may be helpful. The Oklahoma Statutory Power of Attorney form is located at Oklahoma Statutes Title 15 Contracts Section 1003.);
- Will (Simple or Pour-Over);
- Revocable Living Trust;
- Irrevocable Trust (This type of trust is only needed in specific situations); and
- Supplement Needs Trusts (also known as a Special Needs Trust).
For more information on this topic, please see our Quick Start Guide for Oklahoma Estate Planning and Elder Law – Part 3.
Estate Planning for Your Family
In general, estate planning for your family revolves around the factors impacting the health, education, maintenance, and support of a surviving spouse and any descendants. These factors may include their age, medical needs, current lifestyle, fiscal responsibility, and overall family dynamics. As an example, parents may wish to nominate guardians to take care of minor children in the event of their death. Usually, it is not necessary to produce any additional documents since these concerns are already expressed and an integral part of the documents listed above.
For more information on this topic, please see our Quick Start Guide for Oklahoma Estate Planning and Elder Law – Part 4.
What is Elder Law?
This insightful question has no simple answers. In many parts of the country, what we call “estate planning” in Oklahoma is referred to as “elder law.” Other legal sources define “elder law” as anything that affects elderly people including long-term care, nursing home abuse, financial scams as well as traditional “estate planning.” The problem with this definition, for example, is that the need for long-term care does not only apply to elderly persons.
As mentioned above, the definition that we prefer for estate planning is that it is a list of instructions regarding your values and valuables. Accordingly, “elder law” considerations become a part of the estate plan when government benefits such as Social Security Disability, Medicare, Medicaid or the Department of Veterans Affairs are included.
For more information on this topic, please see our Quick Start Guide for Oklahoma Estate Planning and Elder Law – Part 5.
Estate Planning and Elder Law in Oklahoma
Estate planning and elder law in Oklahoma is a challenging and dynamic area of the practice of law. Many facts and circumstances must be considered before an appropriate estate plan can be designed and crafted. It involves components of both art and science.
We encourage you to contact Morrel Law PLLC today so that we can help prepare your estate plan.