Most people In Oklahoma understand how important it is for their elderly parents to have health care directives in place. They may also encourage their aging family members to assign a durable power of attorney in case they should become disabled and need someone to make important medical or financial decisions for them. However, many overlook the fact that there may be younger people in the family who are in similarly vulnerable positions.
It is never easy to watch a parent's health suddenly worsen, and it can be uncomfortable to discuss what might happen in the event that it does not improve. Many adult children in Oklahoma believe that they understand their parents' medical wishes and can handle important decisions if necessary, but this is rarely the case. It is often much safer for an estate plan to include a living will -- also referred to as a medical directive -- and a health care power of attorney.
At one point or another, many adults in Oklahoma will have to deal with the possibility of placing a parent in the care of a nursing home or other type of residential facility. This decision is already one that is fraught with emotions, and many families fail to take proper legal precautions to ensure the continued medical and financial care of their loved ones. A power of attorney is a powerful tool that can allow individuals to exercise continued control over themselves and some aspects of their estate, but it should almost always be used with caution.
As the Baby Boomer generation of Oklahoma nears retirement age, most of their estate planning concerns center around retirement funds and inheritances that will be left to adult children. These worries are of course valid and should be addressed, but estate planning can play a much more profound role at this age. For instance, a durable health care power of attorney can help prevent elder abuse from affecting an incapacitated individual. Unfortunately, that alone might not be enough anymore.
Estate planning can be incredibly complex or minimally simplistic depending on the needs of individuals in Oklahoma. The fear of creating a complex estate plan -- even if it is not necessary -- causes many people to put off planning with the idea of getting around to it later. Unfortunately, later is not always available. While estate planning often focuses on what happens after a person's death, the process also helps protect people who have become incapacitated and unable to care for themselves.
When it comes to estate planning basics, wills and trusts tend to top the list of topics. Wills are of course a necessary part of virtually any estate plan and trusts have many possible benefits, but estate planners often leave a very important document out of the mix -- a power of attorney. Durable powers of attorney can help loved ones avoid confusion and difficult decisions in the face of otherwise terrible situations.
Many Oklahoma residents are turning their thoughts to how they can make changes to improve their lives in 2016. Addressing estate planning is one way to ensure that loved ones will be properly cared for in the event of an individual's debt. However, there is another aspect of estate planning that many people overlook. Creating the proper power of attorney documents is equally important.
Young people are in the very beginning stages of their adult lives and are presented with so many choices and opportunities. In the first few years of adulthood, very few people take the time to consider their estate planning needs. No one in Oklahoma wants to think about their own death or incapacitation, especially those who are just entering the world of adult life. That said, everyone has the need to create a basic estate plan, even the very youngest adults.
A recent Supreme Court decision has answered the basic question of whether same-sex couples can legally marry. The landmark case is being celebrated by families in Oklahoma and across the nation, as many will receive a number of benefits that were previously unattainable. Many of these benefits fall within estate planning, an area in which gay couples have been at a disadvantage for many years. In certain areas, such as the need for power of attorney designations, gay couples are already properly protected.
With same-sex marriage under nearly constant attack within the state of Oklahoma, many couples are concerned about how to create an estate planning package that protects their interests. This is a serious matter, as individuals who die without any form of estate plan will become subject to the probate process, in which a court will decide the ultimate distribution of assets. That outcome is difficult to predict, especially in a political environment in which same-sex marriage is not without challenge.