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Trusts and Estates Oklahoma


Most people first think of putting together a will when the subject of estate planning comes forth. However, as common as wills are in general, recent years have seen a distinct growth in Oklahoma and around the country in the prevalence of trusts that are used for the purpose of estate planning. In many ways, a trust can be extremely advantageous when handled in the estate planning context.


If you are unsure of whether a trust would be an advisable strategy for your estate, you need to contact Privett Law. I have years of experience in helping those in need find answers to estate planning concerns and put together an estate plan that works best for any client's particular situation.


Trusts – Creating a Trust


The first question that must be answered when one creates a trust for estate planning purposes is which type of trust would best serve the situation. Generally, there are two types of trusts that are used most in this situation – the testamentary trust and the living trust. Each is explained below.


The Living Trust


The living trust is just that – a trust that’s put together when someone is still alive. Creating a living trust does come with some requirements that can easily be handled by a skilled estate planning attorney. For instance, the trust document should contain:

1. A description of the property transferred into the trust
2. A statement of the trust purposes
3. Identification of the trust’s beneficiaries
4. Identification of the trustee and successor trustee


There are other issues to keep in mind when creating a trust. First, if the trust will ‘own’ any real property, then your attorney should handle the necessary transfer documents. Secondly, only property that’s ‘real’ and tangible at the time the trust is created can be transferred into a trust. For instance, if you have some future right to ownership in a company, that cannot be transferred into the trust.


The Testamentary Trust


Creating a testamentary trust is a function of a will. For instance, when a person puts together his or her last will and testament, that document would dictate that the estate’s property should be transferred into ownership of a trust before distribution. The requirements for a valid testamentary trust are the same as a living trust, in that the appropriate parties and property need to be clearly identified.


Trust Modification in Oklahoma


Many times, after a trust is created, the original party may want it to be changed for any of a number of reasons, including new property that’s acquired, the death or change in status of one or more of the beneficiaries and other contingencies that can arise. With the help of an estate planning attorney, trust modification in Oklahoma can be a relatively simple process.


When someone wants to effectuate a trust modification, he or she needs to put together a trust amendment that describes in intricate detail the nature of the changes desired, the reasons for these changes and how any trust issues in regards to this modification will be handled going forward. Like anything else in estate planning, one needs to err on the side of being too clear as opposed to taking a risk of being ambiguous, as that could lead to the trust being sued or invalidated in certain circumstances.


Trust Termination in Oklahoma


There are different ways to handle a trust termination in Oklahoma, and your attorney can help you plan for that termination ahead of time. One of the manners in which a trust is typically terminated is when the trust’s funds are exhausted. Since the trust no longer holds any assets, it does not need to exist any longer, and your attorney can file the appropriate paperwork with the clerk of courts and taxing authorities to record the trust’s termination. Another manner in which trusts are terminated is by design. For instance, a party could put together a trust that benefits his or her heirs, but only for a certain amount of time or for a certain amount of money. Once one or both of these factors happens, then the trust document could direct that the remaining assets in the trust are either donated to a charity or bequeathed to a schedule of beneficiaries in one lump sum. At this point, the trust termination is complete.


Your Next Step


As you see, there are limitless ways in which a trust can be created, modified or terminated in Oklahoma, but the biggest advantage of any properly-formulated trust is its potential to avoid probate and/or tax liability. If you’d like a full set of answers to any questions you may have, you need to contact Privett Law today to schedule an initial consultation.