Estate Planning & Probate
The attorneys in the Firm's estate planning and probate department advise clients who desire a wise and orderly plan for their estate distribution. These attorneys, including an "AV Rated" shareholder, have extensive experience advising clients with substantial assets, including family businesses, and directing clients so as to minimize or avoid adverse tax consequences.
The Firm assists clients with basic to complex estate planning. This commonly involves the use of a will and/or trust. We work with clients to identify goals, anticipate future concerns, and formulate a plan that will accomplish that client’s objectives. We frequently advise clients on issues such as minimizing the effect of taxes upon an estate, planning for a blended family, and business succession planning. Our Firm has found that while many people find it difficult to address end-of-life issues, those who take the time to create an estate plan make it much easier for their survivors to address the various financial issues created by the loss of a loved one.
Business Succession Planning
Clients frequently have a large amount of their assets in a family business or closely held company. The Firm has counseled numerous clients regarding planning for business succession after the death of an owner. This can be an important step in making sure that a business continues to run smoothly after the death of an owner. This type of planning also addresses whether and how a decedent’s loved ones will receive an interest in the business. Unfortunately, the failure to plan for such an event can be very harmful to the success and existence of a small business.
Attorneys at our Firm have experience providing services to many types of tax-exempt organizations. We routinely help clients achieve their nonprofit objectives, whether such goals include establishing a private charitable foundation to further their family’s charitable giving, or establishing a publicly supported charity. The Firm counsels clients on selecting and forming the appropriate form of tax-exempt organization (including nonprofit corporations and charitable trusts), as well as securing and maintaining tax-exempt status. Our representation includes advising private non-operating and operating charitable foundations; support organizations; civic leagues; scientific and medical research organizations; and publicly supported charities.
While many people associate estate planning with asset distribution, one of the most pressing concerns for young parents is, “What will happen to my children if I pass away?” The Firm regularly assists clients in guardianship planning for minor children, in order to identify who will care for the children in the event both parents pass away. Younger clients report that this is frequently one of the most important aspects of creating an estate plan.
While the use of a trust may avoid the probate process, in some cases probate is a necessity (and a good thing). The Firm regularly handles probate matters. Probate is frequently necessary in order to distribute property pursuant to the terms of a will. During the probate process, a party may also object to the validity or enforceability of a will. The Firm has represented clients in cases involving claims of undue influence and lack of testamentary capacity. An administration (a judicial proceeding similar to a probate) may also be necessary when a person dies without a will. In such cases, the Court will distribute the decedent’s property according to Oklahoma statutes. Our attorneys have experience representing the various parties involved in this process, including the personal representative of the estate and heirs with claims to the decedent’s estate.
Health Care Documents
National events have highlighted the need for an individual to execute health care documents. These include an Advance Directive (also known as a Living Will) and a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. The Firm recommends including these documents in an estate plan.