A will is the more commonly recognized basic document of estate planning documents. Without a will, the state of Oklahoma will distribute one’s estate per the state’s intestacy laws. This means assets would be distributed to family members based on legal relationship to the decedent. Generally, recipients or heirs, in order of hierarchy are surviving spouse, children and children of deceased children. If one is not survived by a spouse and leaves no children, then generally, the next in line to inherit are parents, siblings, and/or other ancestors or descendants of ancestors. “If the decedent leaves no spouse, issue, parent, issue of parents, grandparent, issue of a grandparent, nor kindred, then the estate shall escheat to the state for the support of the common schools.” (84 Okla. Stat. tit. 84 § 213(B)(3)).
A will is a simple way to control ‘who gets what’ without subjecting the estate to distribution according to State’s preferences. Ms. Hoopert frequently draft wills for individuals. However, having a will, does not mean the decedent’s estate will not be subject to supervision of the court for probate. Each client and every situation is unique.
In some cases, a will can’t fully dispatch the individual’s wishes. In those instances, a trust may be more appropriate. Trusts can be used for a variety of reasons. A living or revocable trust is often used when an individual wants his estate to bypass the probate process. Trusts can also be effective for managing assets that are left to minors or other heirs who are unable to manage the assets themselves.
Ms. Hoopert can recommend which estate planning documents are more appropriate based upon one’s wishes for their heirs or beneficiaries and whether the estate may be subject to estate tax or other income tax issues. While a will may be sufficient for many people, unique circumstances may require more advanced planning. While Ms. Hoopert is happy to assist clients in a wide variety of estate planning and administration issues, she does not accept contested will or trust issues.