Selecting a Guardian for Minors – Geography

Geography is a factor that my clients frequently fail to consider when naming a guardian for their minor children. If it is possible, name someone who lives close.

If something happens that renders you unable to care for you minor children, it will be a stressful time for the children and for the named guardian. The last thing that you want is to add more stress to the situation. If the children have to move a long distance to the guardian, or if the guardian has to move to the children, the relocation will add additional stress.

If possible, name someone who lives close. Of course, some of us do not live near the person or person that we feel would be the best guardian of our children. If that is true for you, it is ok. Geography is one of many factors to consider when deciding on who should act as guardian. Very few people will have a guardian who fits perfectly when considering all of the factors. Just do the your best to consider the factors and seek the counsel of a competent estate planning attorney if you feel you need to.


Selecting a Guardian for Minor Children

I recently welcomed my son Thomas into the world. He was born August 23, 2012 healthy and happy. Since he is my first, I never realized how protective a parent can feel for a child. Now, I truly understand why naming a guardian is such an important aspect of estate planning for my clients.

In the next few weeks I will be writing about the factors one should consider when naming a guardian for a minor and how to make sure you do it right.


Be Concerned By the Size of Your Estate

During the last few years, the majority of Oklahoma citizens have not needed to worry about estate tax. If you passed away in 2011 or 2012 you are eligible for a $5 million estate tax exemption. Even though the size of your estate includes life insurance proceeds paid to your beneficiaries upon your death, a fact most people do not understand, most estates are less that $5 million.
Unfortunately, the estate tax exemption amount is going to change January 1, 2013. The exemption amount will only be $1 million starting the coming year. This will cause a lot more Oklahoma households to get slammed with this tax. Even worse, all of your assets over $1 million will be taxed at 55%. That means if your house, cars, brokerage accounts, bank accounts and other property are worth $500,000, and you have a $1 million life insurance benefit, your family will be paying the IRS $275,000. Hopefully, Congress and the elected President will work together to change this.
Below are a few tips regarding the estate tax that you ought to remember:
  • Unless you have engaged in advanced estate planning, everything counts. Your personal property counts. This consists of your: IRAs, insurance, annuities, autos, collectibles, 401(k)s, checking accounts, business interests, and so forth. All of you real property counts, like your house.
  • With good planning, you can avoid taxation when the first spouse passes away.
  • You can give away some property to lower your estate tax burden. You may give around $13,000 without tax implications each year. A number of families practice this gift planning. If you can afford to give funds away, then they won’t be in your estate when you pass, and they won’t get taxed. Other families – as an alternative for giving assets to young family members – will gift into trusts to help secure the gifted assets.
  • You can give to charity. Anything you give to charity, either during your life or after your death, will not be taxed.
Estate tax planning is important, but it is also complex. This post is a general overview of the subject. If you are worried that the IRS will serve your family a large estate tax bill upon your death, I urge you to seek the advice of an attorney who focuses on Estate Planning.

Protect Your Assets

Recently I’ve been able to help several professionals with asset protection. Oklahoma asset protection is an area of the law that few attorneys focus on. However, in todays litigious society more and more clients need asset protection.

We all remember the McDonalds case where the plaintiff was awarded 9 million for spilling hot coffee on her lap. That is perhaps the most famous asset protection case (or case that exposes the need for asset protection), but it is certainly not the only one.

Doctors, dentists and all medical professionals work with a target on their back. Unfortunately, they are held to almost unachievable standards. They are expected to be perfect and when they aren’t there is a lawsuit waiting to be filed.

These professionals can lower their lawsuit profile by contacting a tulsa asset protection attorney and discussing their options.

For a Lifetime

Working with clients who have beneficiaries with special needs is always rewarding. Today I helped a client create an estate plan that will take care of her and her special needs son for a lifetime. It is always amazing to me to think that something I wrote, work that I performed, will continue on for years to come. That’s what makes everyday so enjoyable and worth the effort.


I don’t know about you, but I’m glad most of this snow seems to be behind us. At least we get to say we lived through a blizzard!

Despite all the snow, I’ve managed to get a lot of work done. That is the nice thing about laptop computers and cloud computing. I was able to access all my files from my house.

Unfortunately, I had to postpone several meetings, because many of my current clients were unable to get out of their driveways. I don’t blame them. I dug out just in case, but I was excited about driving in those conditions.

So, if you are a current client, I think we’ve got everything properly rescheduled. If not, please do not hesitate to call. If you are interested in creating your estate plan, we are ready to meet with you. Call anytime!

It’s been a week.

Too long since I last wrote. That is a good thing, because I’ve helped several clients since then.

I finished up an estate plan for a couple who has been married for over fifty years. They had no planning done and needed help. We had the signing ceremony, and now they can rest assured that they have taken care of themselves and their loved ones.

After that a retirement specialist asked me to meet with clients of his. They have been married sixty five years! They have no planning in place. I met with them and they hired my firm. I’ll act as their attorney for all their estate planning.

I was also hired to work with another couple who just had their first child. They came to RTY Law through some friends. They asked me to draft their estate planning documents with emphasis on who they want to act guardian of their child in the event they are unable to do so.

Add to all this emails, phone calls, mettings, board meetings, etc., and it makes for a full week.

5 Critical Estate Planning Mistakes To Avoid

I gave this presentation this morning to a great group of people. I hope I communicated clearly. There were a lot of questions afterwards, which means either I made no sense, or the presentation went great and the audience understands the need to not make mistakes in their estate plan. I’m hoping for the latter!
I’m embedding the presentation here. It briefly covers my background, takes a look at estate planning mistakes from a historical perspective, then covers the 5 most critical estate planning mistakes people make today.
The information in the slides alone is limited. Contact me at for more detailed information.
Alright, it has been a long day 7:00AM to 10:00PM pretty much non-stop. That is what you get when you own a law firm. If I didin’t love it, I’d hate it!

Poetic Will Contests

Disputes over wills have been around for centuries, and perhaps longer. One can imagine pre-civilization men coming to blows over the sticks, stones, and other tools of one of their deceased contemporaries. Take this quote from Voltaire, French author (1694 – 1778):

“Animals have these advantages over man: they never hear the clock strike, they die without any idea of death, they have no theologians to instruct them, their last moments are not disturbed by unwelcome and unpleasant ceremonies, their funerals cost them nothing, and no one starts lawsuits over their wills.”

via Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Ohio Connection

I’ve been working hard on this blog for my clients, prospects, and anyone else interested in estate planning in Oklahoma. That is why it is great when good people like Michael D. Bonasera at The Ohio Trust & Estate Blog agree to link up with me. For my clients with family in Ohio, especially near Columbus, Michael appears to be doing terrific estate planning work there.