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Estate planning for digital assets is more than just sentimental

Technology has certainly made it easier for people to manage certain aspects of their lives. For example, people in Oklahoma can pay bills, make purchases and handle investments all online and even automatically. However, because many of these types of accounts contain vital and private information, people often secure them with passwords. Estate planning now must consider how an estate executor, trustee or heir will access those accounts if the account holder becomes ill or passes away.

Online accounts are not limited to bank accounts and bill paying; some may hold a balance on a favorite online shopping or game site. Even the music people purchase for download is an asset. A loved one may have earned loyalty points, created a lucrative website or built a following with a blog. All of these are considered digital property. Some may not consider that social media pages like Facebook are assets, although many people keep pictures and videos on their social media.

Woman facing drunk driving charges after fatal accident

A 38-year-old Oklahoma woman told police she was traveling southbound when she swerved and clipped another southbound vehicle, causing an accident that took the life of the other driver. However, investigators say the woman's story does not match the evidence at the scene. The woman is now accused of drunk driving, and because the accident resulted in a fatal injury, she is likely concerned about her future.

According to police, it is more probable that the woman was driving in the northbound lane when she veered onto the shoulder. Police believe when she overcorrected, her car crossed the center line and hit the other vehicle head-on. The other driver was trapped in her vehicle with massive injuries for nearly three hours and died before rescuers could extricate her.

Estate-planning issues millennials may not think about

It is not unusual for millennials to put off the idea of preparing a will or trust. Estate planning matters are often the furthest thing from their minds. Many younger people are focused on their careers and on new goals and experiences, and believe that the need for estate planning is at least two or three decades away.

However, as an estate-planning attorney will tell you, certain situations that can arise in the millennial lifestyle might require a second look sooner rather than later.

Some use estate planning to get even with disappointing heirs

Among the many entertaining things to be seen on the internet, web surfers may run across articles detailing the unusual messages people have left in their wills. While estate planning is generally a serious endeavor, some in Oklahoma may use their wills to leave a humorous statement in order to ease the grief of their loved ones. Others, however, see their wills as a way to take a parting shot at someone who has hurt them. Many estate planning experts agree that this is a bad idea.

While it may be the stuff of movies, it is not unheard of for people to leave clear and hurtful messages in their wills. Denying an inheritance to their children and leaving their wealth to a pet is one example. However, while disinheriting someone is a personal and civil way to express one's disappointment with potential heirs, some desire to use their wills to leave cruel or crass messages to their families.

Duties of probate administration may overwhelm an executor

When a loved one dies, family and friends may carry a burden of grief. However, for the one chosen to be the personal representative of the deceased, there may be additional burdens to bear. Probate administration can be a time-consuming and frustrating process, and being named the executor of someone's estate means dealing with that frustration almost exclusively. Those in Oklahoma charged with the task may find a few tips helpful.

Family wealth experts believe staying organized is the key to successful estate administration. The executor is responsible for making sure the assets of the deceased remain safe until probate ends and those assets can be distributed to the estate's heirs. If the deceased has left an inventory of assets and vital documents, the executor's job will likely be easier. However, in many cases, the executor will have to gather that information, along with the death certificate and the will or trust documentation.

Estate planning for childless singles

The dismal news is that 64 percent of Americans do not have a will. When estate planning is overlooked, a person essentially agrees to allow Oklahoma courts to decide who gets what. More critically, someone who does not prepare may have no one to make vital medical or financial decisions in the event of an emergency. Married couples with children may rely on state laws to appoint their spouses and children as proxies or beneficiaries. However, those without families do not have that safety net.

For widowed spouses without children or those never married, choosing a health-care proxy may be quite difficult. Such a choice requires trust and an intimacy that may be a challenge to find. However, including a living will with an estate plan outlines a person's wishes for end-of-life decisions and provides a guide for one's proxy. When it comes to someone to act as a durable power of attorney, most advisors suggest it be someone other than the appointed health-care proxy. Some recommend hiring a professional for this duty.

Oklahoma expands interlock use for drunk driving offenses

Despite the increase in public awareness, education and penalties, alcohol-related driving fatalities in Oklahoma continue to rise. However, one defensive tool seems to work to prevent drunk driving accidents, and that is the ignition interlock system. Mothers Against Drunk Driving recently applauded the state legislature for working to increase the role of the interlock devices in the efforts to reduce the number of DUI accidents.

Those convicted of DUI will be required to install and maintain ignition interlock systems for at least six months after a conviction. At this time, ignition interlock is only required for repeat offenders or if a first-time offender has a blood alcohol level of .15 or higher. If Governor Mary Fallin signs the measure into law, Oklahoma will be the 29th state to make ignition interlock systems mandatory for every offender.

Probate administration: Adding pour-over assets to a trust

One of the appeals of a trust-based estate plan is that it allows the assets funded in the trust to avoid probate. A drawback of a revocable trust is that people often forget to fund all of their important assets to the trust. When this happens, those assets not funded must go through probate administration.

This consequence may not be a serious one unless the grantor had specific beneficiaries in mind to receive (or not receive) those assets. The omission of those assets from the trust means that probate court will likely order them distributed to whomever the laws of Oklahoma dictate are the legal heirs. This is usually the closest blood relatives. However, a person who establishes a trust -- instead of writing a will or simply leaving his or her belongings for probate to decide -- typically has strong reasons for doing so.

Delaying estate planning raises risk of testamentary incapacity

Challenging a will is usually difficult. A person who decides to legally dispute a will in Oklahoma must prove that the testator was unduly influenced or was not of sound mind at the time the will was signed. This latter point is often misunderstood. While soundness of mind is essential for estate planning, it is not as limiting as it seems.

When a person is signing a will, advanced health care directive or do-not-resuscitate order, the law requires that he or she be aware of the gravity of the document. In fact, in most states, testamentary capacity is decided by determining a person's abilities in four areas. Those signing a will must understand what they own, that they are planning for the distribution of their belongings after death, to whom they are distributing their property, and the purpose of the documents they are signing.

DUIs and the ignition interlock device

In the state of Oklahoma, the laws treat drunk driving seriously. If an officer arrests you for driving under the influence, there are mandatory periods for license revocation. Additionally, Oklahoma has instituted ignition interlock laws.

If you receive a DUI charge as a first offender, you may wish to petition the court to have your license restored. The attorney you engage can help you with this. If the court agrees to modify the revocation order, it will probably require you to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.

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