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Courts make asset decisions without an Oklahoma estate plan

Only about 40 percent of Oklahoma and other U.S. adults have a will. Analysts believe several reasons cause Americans to delay or dismiss putting their financial houses in order before death. Current life stresses keep people from thinking about the future. Death is a grim subject. The courts can take care of it.

Consider whether knowing approximately when you would die would make any difference to estate plan preparation. Individuals approaching advanced age and likely health declines do think more about estate planning than younger people. In truth, none of us is certain when death will come, which is why the present is the best time to formulate an estate plan.

Estate planning attorneys cannot remove your daily stresses or turn death into a pleasant topic. What they can do is set you straight on the rules that apply to the assets you leave behind and help you protect them for heirs. It is true probate will take care of your estate, if you'd don't; however, the result may not be to your liking.

Many people feel that as long as they orally share their wishes, a court will honor them. Without written direction, an Oklahoma probate court will distribute your assets according to state laws, not verbal desires. Among other benefits, a will allows you to match assets with specific beneficiaries.

Sometimes an old will is just as ineffective as no will. Beneficiaries you chose 10 or 20 years ago may be sorely out of date. A long-forgotten ex-spouse may be entitled to your retirement, simply because you failed to update the pension plan beneficiary.

Estate planning documents allow you to control how and when assets are distributed, make medical choices and assign someone to manage finances in case of incapacity. The final step in wealth building is making sure the people you love continue to benefit from it. That's what estate plans do.

Source:, "Putting financial affairs in order is key, even when facing a terminal illness" Julie Halpert, Nov. 08, 2013

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