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Discuss the details of estate administration to avoid conflict

The so-called traditional family is seemingly almost a thing of the past, with modern day families coming in all shapes and varieties that work and function in uniquely individual ways. Increasingly, step-children are included in wills, slated to receive an inheritance from a parent who is not related by blood.  While this increasing norm is becoming more prevalent across Oklahoma, there are still special concerns that can arise during the estate administration process.

Many parents choose to name their children in medical powers of attorney, an understandable choice if a spouse is deceased or experiencing his or her own health issues. However, no two children are alike -- one might be responsible enough to handle serious medical decisions and financial moves, while another might not. In such cases, deferring to the most responsible child is one of the most accepted courses of action. But what if that child is not actually blood related?

Granting a step-child the right to make serious decisions or even guardianship over an incapacitated parent can logically make the most sense, but it can also stir serious contention among other children. Biological children can feel threatened by this decision or even worried that their parent will be influenced to change the outcome of a will. At that point, it is possible for a biological child to petition the court for guardianship, giving that individual an inordinate amount of power over an estate and the ability to make changes to a plan that they might not have ever seen before.

Establishing an estate plan requires significant considerations to be given to a variety of topics, including who will be in charge of an estate or serious health care decisions. In the event that a person in Oklahoma makes an unconventional choice for guardian or executor during estate administration, it is typically advisable to discuss the choice with all of those who will be affected. Assuring biological children of their future inheritance can help diffuse any potential conflict before it ever arises.

Source:, "COLUMN: Stealing of birthright updated to modern times", Sandra W. Reed, Jan. 24, 2016

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