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Carrie Fisher's estate planning provides a positive example

In recent years, celebrity deaths have brought important focus on the need for thinking ahead. When famous people die leaving ridiculous fortunes to no one in particular, fans in Oklahoma may wonder why such wealthy people did not take the time for estate planning. Instead, months pass while potential heirs dispute and probate drags on, likely something none of the departed stars wished to happen.

Recently, the world lost the beloved actress Carrie Fisher, known for her iconic role as Princess Leia in the classic Star Wars movies. Fisher apparently had no other family except her 25-year-old daughter, actress Billie Lourd. For some months after Fisher's death, her fans may have wondered how much of a fortune she had accumulated and if she had made any preparations for the disposal of that fortune. Ms. Fisher's estate executor recently filed documents with the probate court in the actress's state answering both of these questions.

Do you understand the consequences of a DUI charge?

Many people who drink and drive in Oklahoma assume the only ones who have something to lose are those who have lucrative careers, fancy lifestyles and are in the public eye. Little do they realize that DUI charges have a much deeper impact on their lives. Not only do they have to deal with the stigma attached to the crime, they must also deal with the short- and long-term effects. Many of the immediate consequences of DUI charges can alter the course of their lives for many years to come. 

Damages reputation and credibility 

Woman suspected of drunk driving had children in the car

It is not uncommon for police in Oklahoma to stop a vehicle for a minor infraction only to discover more serious issues inside the vehicle. When this happens, the driver of the vehicle may risk arrest by not understanding his or her rights and the limitations and boundaries of law enforcement. Instead of receiving a citation for a faulty headlight, the driver may end up in jail facing serious charges like drunk driving.

One woman is now facing numerous charges after police pulled her over around 2:30 a.m. for a defective light. A sheriff's deputy reported noticing the woman's eyes were red and watery. She allegedly slurred her words when she spoke. The deputy asked the woman to step out of the car and reported that she did so with difficulty. Putting these and other signs together, the deputy concluded that the woman was likely intoxicated.

An overview of probate administration

In the uncertain days and weeks that pass immediately following the death of a loved one, there may be a great deal of confusion and uncertainty. The surviving spouse or loved ones may have very little understanding of the state of the family finances or the true scope of the estate. Knowing what needs to be done is the first step to bringing it all into order through probate administration.

While parts of the process can wait while loved ones mourn their loss, other items must be dealt with in a timely manner to avoid the delay of needed benefits or the penalty of added interest or fees. Each state has its particular rules for probate, and an estate planning attorney may be the best person to consult for information about the specific requirements in Oklahoma. However, the first step is for a spouse or other loved one to file the will or, if no will exists, to petition the court for appointment as estate administrator.

Preparing digital assets for probate administration

Estate planning provides guidance and direction for those who hold a legal interest in someone's assets. By detailing one's wishes and preferences, probate administration can be simplified and, in some cases, bypassed altogether. However, what many in Oklahoma overlook when planning their estates is the designation of rights for their digital assets. Unlike physical assets, many digital assets are protected by law and cannot simply be handed down to an heir without careful preparation.

To ensure a person's digital assets are disposed of according to his or her wishes, advisors say it is essential for those holding such assets to create an inventory. On this list should be the names and access information for all electronic accounts and subscriptions, including online payment plans. Without a list of these accounts, heirs may not even know that such assets exist, much less the passwords to access them.

Estate planning preserves a small business owner's dream

A small business owner has enough to think about just to keep the business running smoothly. Sometimes it's enough to be able to focus on the day-to-day necessities without worrying about problems that may or may not happen years down the road. Unfortunately, if an entrepreneur supports his or her family with the profits from a business, there is no room for the luxury of postponing creating a contingency plan. A major element of protecting one's business and family is estate planning.

Business advisors recommend Oklahoma entrepreneurs have certain vital documents prepared to guard against unforeseeable events. First, a financial power of attorney grants authority to someone so that important decisions can be made when the business owner is incapacitated. For example, if the owner needs surgery or becomes ill, the FPOA can ensure bills are paid and operations continue until the owner is able to carry on his or her responsibilities.

Man faces drunk driving charges after single vehicle accident

Accidents involving alcohol have the potential to cause devastating injuries. Because of this, Oklahoma law enforcement and safety advocacy groups work hard to promote sober driving habits. A driver who is believed to be under the influence faces serious penalties if a court finds him or her guilty of drunk driving. One man is currently facing such a situation following a recent single vehicle accident.

The man was driving west one Saturday night when, for unknown reasons, his SUV left the roadway and crashed into a tree. The 27-year-old driver was taken to the hospital for treatment and released. However, the man had four other passengers in his vehicle.

Family invoking slayer rule during probate administration

In Oklahoma, when a family member dies suddenly, it is often under tragic circumstances. When several family members perish at the same time and a fortune is at stake, it may be under suspicious circumstances. The sisters of a deceased woman in another state have their suspicions about their nephew, the last person to see his mother and grandfather alive, who is next in line to inherit a portion of a $40 million estate now in probate administration. They have petitioned the probate court to bar the young man from receiving any of the assets.

In 2013, the man's grandfather was found shot three times in his bed. While police suspected the 20-year-old grandson of the killing, no arrest had been made three years later when the grandson took his mother deep-sea fishing. Seven days later, the woman's son was rescued from an emergency raft, but his mother was never found. The man's story of the events that caused his boat to sink did not add up to investigators.

Understanding prescription drug DUI

Most people know that drinking and driving can result in facing DUI charges. However, even legally prescribed medication can impair your driving and lead to equivalent charges.

Under Oklahoma law, prohibited medications include any controlled dangerous substances. The law also includes in its scope any intoxicating substance. Many common medications may fall into these categories if they affect your ability to drive safely.

Estate planning may be even more important for singles

Estate plans are often geared toward families so that parents can provide for their children and ensure a surviving spouse is well supported. Because of this, singles in Oklahoma may think they have no need for estate planning. However, having a plan for the future may be even more important to those who are unmarried. They simply must focus on difference aspects and goals in their preparations.

Just because a person has no spouse or children does not mean there are no assets or estate to consider. The decision to write a will or to title accounts so they will transfer on death will prevent the estate from being distributed by an Oklahoma court. While singles may not have immediate families, they may certainly have loved ones or causes to which they are devoted, and naming them as beneficiaries is only possible through legal documentation, such as a will or trust.

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