Oklahoma Estate Planning

This category contains posts on trusts, wills, durable powers of attorney, living wills and other issues related to estate planning.

Estate Planning Demystified – Episode 2: The terms

This is episode 2 of Estate Planning Demystified.  In this episode, I go over and explain the terms that are commonly used in estate planning including:
*Last Will and Testament
*Power of Attorney
*Living Trust

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If you want to leave me feedback or ask a question (both of which would be awesome to have), please send me an email at sjr@shawnjroberts.com.

Posted by Shawn Roberts in Blogposts, Oklahoma Estate Planning, Podcast Episodes

I need some feedback – lawyer advertising on television

This is one of those moments where I really appreciate the opportunity to come to you and ask for some help.  I was approached recently about advertising my estate planning law practice on television, using 30 second spots in which I would be the “star.” (term used very loosely).

My views about attorneys advertising on television have generally been negative:  the commercials seem over-the-top, not tastefully done and actually hurt the reputation of attorneys in general.  I have no desire to be part of that scene.  Plus, I have never done any “mass media” advertising, all of my clients come from personal referrals at this point.

HOWEVER, the person pitching the advertising to me made a convincing argument that the ads could be: (a) done tastefully; (b) based on material I have written; (c) done for a reasonable price; (d) drive traffic to my website; and (e) in our market, I would be one of the few doing this.  It was a solid enough argument that I am going to investigate it.  

I  need some guidance from you about me advertising on television.  Let me know your thoughts.  Here are a few ideas to work with:

  • What is your opinion of attorney advertising in general?  How about on television?
  • What are some of the things you either like or dislike about attorney advertisements on television?
  • Would you consider hiring an attorney to do estate planning for you and your family based on a television commercial?

Please leave me some feedback in the comments, I would appreciate it greatly and it be helpful to me.

Posted by Shawn Roberts in Blogposts, Oklahoma Estate Planning

How do I avoid being in a Terry Schiavo situation?

If you recall from the early part of this century, there was a huge legal battle in Florida over whether a poor woman named Terri Schiavo would be kept alive through artificial means (feeding tube) or allowed to pass away.  Her husband, who was estranged from her family wanted her to pass away, her family wanted her to remain alive through artificial means.  The result was 10 years of litigation, $100,000.00 of dollars in legal fees and unmeasurable pain for the family.  A court ultimately decided Ms. Schiavo should be allowed to pass away.

There is a way to prevent this type of battle.  In Oklahoma, it is done through an Advance Directive (living will).  This document allows you make decisions about how your end-of-life are is handled and appoint a person you trust to help the doctors carry out your decisions.  Most other states have the same type of living will provisions.

If the living will is done properly, the doctors, hospital and family are required to follow it:

A physician or other health care provider who is furnished the original or a photocopy of the advance directive shall make it a part of the declarant’s medical record and, if unwilling to comply with the advance directive, promptly so advise the declarant.

If you have questions about a living will or any other estate planning issues, please feel free to contact me and to find out more about estate planning listen to my podcast “Estate Planning Demystified“.


Posted by Shawn Roberts in Blogposts, Oklahoma Estate Planning

What does the phrase “estate planning” mean to you?

Communicating and explaining is am important as actually doing in my business.  To be able to explain better, I need to understand what people are thinking and how they are viewing things.  To assist in this process, I asked people the question on Linkedin (login required):  When you hear the phrase “estate planning” what comes to your mind? Check out the answers to the question below.

To me estate planning means determining where, how & to whom my stuff & money are distributed to. but i’m typically wrong when it comes to legal jargon.

Planning for retirement, planning for death, trusts, wills, taxes and probate. 🙂

Paperwork. Tons and tons of paperwork.

Preparing your physical, financial, and emotional assets and liabilities to be distributed and dismissed according to your wishes after your imminent demise in a manner that distracts and burdens your loved ones as little as possible.

The overall planning of a person’s wealth is estate planning. All of the assets owned or controlled by a decedent and the debts that were the responsibility of the decedent at the time of deceased’s death are included in estate planning. Estate planning includes the preparation of a will and the planning for taxes after the individual’s death. In order to meet a person’s goals with respect to preparing for incapacity and death, numerous factors such as financial, estate law, insurance, investment, and tax implications must be taken into consideration.
Usually, estate planning includes;
1. creation of a will;
2. limiting estate taxes by setting up trust accounts in the name of beneficiaries;
3. appointing a guardian for living dependents;
4. appointing an executor of the estate to oversee the terms of the will;
5. making funeral arrangements; and
6. establishment of annual gifting to reduce the taxable estate.

Fully and seamlessly providing for my family when I become incapable to do so in the future.

Preparing for the future…

Posted by Shawn Roberts in Blogposts, Oklahoma Estate Planning

When you hear the phrase “estate planning” what comes to your mind?

When I asked the question on Linkedin a few weeks ago “What are the most important one or two qualities for which you look when hiring an attorney?” the response and thoughtful comments were wonderful.  It was so good and helpful I am trying it again.  
This time however the response field is expanded to both Linkedin where I asked the question or simply in the comments below.  Ready?  Here is the question:

When you hear the phrase “estate planning” what comes to your mind?

I am not crazy about the phrase “estate planning”, it is so stiff and formal, but its out there.  Please let me know your thoughts either on Linkedin (login required) or in the comments below this post.  Thank you!

Posted by Shawn Roberts in Blogposts, Oklahoma Estate Planning

5 considerations in naming your children’s Oklahoma guardian

Last week in FreeStyleFriday I reviewed the process of naming a guardian for your minor children.  This week I cover the important considerations in determining the guardians:


1.  The stage in life of the proposed guardian(s).  Are the people at a place in their life or will they be in place where they want to have children?  People who are finishing raising their children and moving on to another stage in life may not want to take on children.

2. The resources of the proposed guardians(s).  Raising and supporting children can be expensive.  When thinking about guardians consider whether the people

who would be guardians generally have the resources to care for additional children.  This is an area where life insurance (on the lives of the parents) can be helpful.

3.  The religious beliefs of the proposed guardian(s).  The guardians could end raising your children having a profound impact on their development both physical and spiritual.  If it is important to you to have your children raised in the faith which you believe, this is something to consider.

4.  Special needs.  Do any of your children have special needs?  If so, are the proposed guardians prepared to meet those needs and care for the children in the way that is necessary?

5.  Legal qualification.  These requirements are usually minimal (e.g., not a convicted felon, non-US citizen etc. . .) but something to consider as a threshold requirement.


The place to name an Oklahoma guardian is usually your last will and testament.  If you want to know more about making an Oklahoma will consider this post.

Posted by Shawn Roberts in Blogposts, Oklahoma Estate Planning

The process of naming a guardian for your children

While it is not the most exciting part of the estate planning process, nominating the people you want to be the guardian of your children obviously has a huge impact.  When parents pass away, the guardianship of minor children is established by a court.  The court either follows a statute which lists relatives who are entitled to be named guardians or, looks to your nomination.  If the court has considered people named in a statute, there is more potential for conflict over who is named a guardian.

Conversely, the nomination is important because unless there are specific facts that make the people you nominate unfit, the Court usually appoints the people who are nominated.  You “nominate” people by simply naming them in a Will or Trust.  In the process of addressing many other estate planning issues, people can cover the issue of guardianship.

In this post, I discuss the factors to consider in determining who your guardian(s) should be.

Posted by Shawn Roberts in Blogposts, Oklahoma Estate Planning

How does a power of attorney help protect my family?

A power of attorney is your act of giving another person (usually your spouse or other family member) the authority to handle your affairs, when you are not able to do it.  The power of attorney usually allows the person you choose to make business, personal and financial decisions for you.  The person you choose only acts for you after a doctor (or two in some cases) finds you incapacitated.

The power of attorney usually saves your family from going to a court and asking that a guardian be appointed for you.  Without a power of attorney or a guardian, you usaully will not be able to act on behalf of your incapcitated family member, even if that person is your spouse.  

The “durable” part of the power of means that the power of attorney is effective when signed, becomes active upon a person’s disability and continues until revoked.

The power of attorney is another item that a person can put in place to help things run smoothly for their family when illness or disability come.  If you have questions about this device or anything else, please feel to contact me.

Posted by Shawn Roberts in Blogposts, Oklahoma Estate Planning

You have an Oklahoma estate plan, whether you created it or not . . .


Whether you have created a will, trust, or even thought about creating one, there is a plan for what happens to your property when you die.  An estate plan is the way to set out the who, what, when, where, and how:

  • Your property will be transferred upon your death;

  • The recipients of your property and in what amounts;

  • The administrator of your estate and the division of your personal property;

  • The person or persons who will be the guardians of your minor children, and what type of resources the guardians will have;

  • Your caretaker if you become incapacitated and a power of attorney granting the authority to handle your affairs.

And since you have an estate plan it is probably helpful to know what your “estate” is, a topic you can learn about in this Post.

From where does this sophisticated Oklahoma estate plan come?

The statutes of the State of Oklahoma (or the state in which you live if not Oklahoma) provide it.  Within the thousands of words contained in the Oklahoma Statutes (whatever state in which you reside), all the decisions are made about what you have, what happens to it, and who takes care of you and your children upon your death.  These laws set a rigid formula and make no exceptions for unusual or special needs.

Without a will or trust in place, your estate will be administered by the court, according to these statutes.  If this happens, the cost to your estate could be greater than if you have an estate plan. Does this sound good? If not, there is an alternative: plan your own estate, determine who takes care of your family and who takes care of you, yourself.

Talk to an attorney to find out how to plan your own estate (whether it is small, medium, or large), and to draft documents that fit you and you and your family’s unique needs – not the convenient one size fits all solution provided by the statutes.  In the process, you are taking care of your family the way you know is best. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or if would like to discuss planning your estate.

Posted by Shawn Roberts in Blogposts, Oklahoma Estate Planning