QWhat is the point of a trust?
ATo avoid probate. When people set up trusts, they are ensuring that their family will not have to go to court when they die. In addition, trusts provide almost unlimited flexibility allowing a person to set out how the money will be used. Money can be paid out immediately upon their death to certain beneficiaries or can be held in the trust for others. So if someone has a child or other person who has special needs and they want to leave money to that person, they would almost certainly want a trust that has special needs provisions.
Also, if they wanted to leave money to a beneficiary or to a person who may have a lot of debt problems they would certainly want to use a trust. They may want a spendthrift provision to protect it from that beneficiary’s creditors. If they wish to leave money to minors, they can do so in such a way that it is used for their education and/or so the payments can be paid out incrementally instead of a lump sum.
Also, trusts are private. The trust themselves are not filed anywhere, so it allows the family to privately handle the distribution of their parents’ assets when their parents die.
Also, creating trusts is less expensive than a probate since probate requires court hearings, publications and a lot of other paperwork that increases the expenses.
QHow long does it take to prepare a trust?
AMost of our trust packages are completed in two weeks. It takes approximately one week to prepare one or two documents such as a Power of Attorney, Living Will or a Deed.
QCan the initial meeting be conducted by phone?
AYes. This happens when people have very busy schedules or may be out of town.
QWhat is the process like for creating a trust?
ATypically, an attorney will meet with you in person at our office. That meeting usually takes about an hour. At that time it is determined what types of documents need to be created based on your situation. If you wish for us to prepare those documents for you, then an appointment is set for the next week in which we will again meet at the office and discuss the drafts. At that time we go over the documents, what they accomplish and how they work together. Changes are made if necessary. At that time half of the payment is due. We then set the signing date for the next week. The signing takes about an hour. The final payment is due. We bind the documents and give you your originals and a full set of copies. Usually the same day or next day, we will file any deeds associated with property that is to be placed in the trust. At the signing we also give you detailed instructions on what you need to do to make sure your bank accounts, investments accounts and titled vehicles are placed in the trust. We are always available afterwards for follow-up questions and directions at no additional charge.

QCan you meet somewhere outside the office such as a home, office, or assisted living facility?
AYes. We commonly have meetings out of the office for people who are homebound. There is an additional travel charge, which is set out on our pricing on the website.
QWhat if I can't find the deeds to my real estate?
AYou don’t need to delay the creation of a trust or other estate planning work because you are unable to locate your deeds. Many times when we are creating a trust for someone and we will be transferring property into the trust, we do have the deed available at the time the trust is signed. However, sometimes people may own properties other than their home. Sometimes these properties are owned out of state and they may not be able to locate a deed or exact legal description of that property. When that happens, if we have not received the legal description in time to have a deed prepared at the time of signing, we will go ahead and sign the trust and other documents and when we receive the legal description, we create the deed and the clients come back in to sign that deed so that property can be transferred to the trust.
QHow often will my trust need to be updated?
ATypically, trusts do not need to be amended unless there has been a change in our client’s family situation or the people that they have put in control if the clients were to become incapacitated or deceased. What this means is that many times the clients will be the best ones to determine whether the trust needs to be updated by looking at the trust itself.
Specifically, I recommend that my clients look at who they have put in control in the various documents that we prepared, such as the successor trustees of a trust, the personal representatives in their will, attorneys-in-fact in their powers of attorney and things of this nature. If any of these are to be changed, it would be appropriate to prepare an amendment.
Also, some people may wish to change their distribution of assets. For example: if they created a trust many years ago when their children were still minors and it had educational provisions and set up guardianships for their children and payment to their guardians and things of that nature, but now the children are adults and they want to change the distribution to leave some money to grandkids, charities or to make other changes, then that would be a good reason for an amendment.
Most trusts, including our trusts, are set up in such a way that if a person sells their home and buys a new home or buys additional property or starts a new business or sells cars or buys new cars or opens new bank accounts, none of those things will affect the trust and there should not be any necessity for an amendment to the trust. Those changes of property, cars and bank accounts are all associated with funding and those are things that the client would need to ensure that the paperwork regarding the real estate, vehicles or investment accounts all show that the trust owns it if that is their wish.
QWhat will it cost to amend my trust?
AAmendments can vary depending upon whether they are regarding distribution or changing who is in control. If it is a change in distribution, most amendments are around $250 if they are changing who is in control, and the person who is being removed is also the personal representative in their will, the attorney-in-fact and the power of attorney, then there can be additional charges removing that person from those future roles.
QCan we amend trusts that were created by other attorneys?
AYes. We frequently make amendments to trusts that were prepared by other attorneys.
QI have a trust from another state but currently live in Oklahoma- do I need to have a new trust created?
ANot necessarily. Typically, people who have trusts created in another state (for example Texas) and then move to Oklahoma, do not need to make a change to their trust just because they now reside in Oklahoma; however, if they anticipate on living in Oklahoma indefinitely, they may want to look at the trust and see if it makes lots of references to Texas law. If this is the case, they may want to consider making an amendment to reflect that Oklahoma law would govern. This is due to the fact that if there was some complication and a trust action needed to be filed, the judge overseeing the trust action would be required to use Texas law and the attorney involved would likewise have to familiarize themselves with Texas law. NOTE: Trust actions are not very common. The point of a trust is to avoid probate, but to be on the safe side if you live in Oklahoma and have a trust that was prepared in another state, you may want to look at it or have an attorney review it for you.
QCan I avoid probate without a trust?
AYes, at least in some situations. To avoid probate, we do explore multiple ways that we can accomplish our client’s goals with the least expense and least complexity. For example, in recent years Oklahoma has become one of the states that authorized a transfer-on-death deed. This allows beneficiaries to be placed directly on a deed. When combining a transfer-on-death deed with putting beneficiaries on bank accounts and things of that nature, certain clients might be able to avoid probate without a trust; however, Oklahoma does not allow beneficiaries to be named on titles of vehicles. A client could put a child as a co-owner on the vehicle; this is called joint tenancy, which allows the child to own the vehicle upon their parent’s death. Depending on a person’s situation, this may be a good idea or it may not. When we meet with clients, we try to cover all options available and let the client decide which way they would like to go.
QWill I have to change my bank account or checks after setting up a revocable living trust?
AWe have not seen any bank require that a new account be established because our clients set up a revocable living trust. Also, we have not heard of any bank that required our clients get new checks reflecting the name of the trust on the checks. As far as we know, all banks will take the information from the trust and ensure that their computer reflects that the bank accounts are owned by the trust but they do not change the account number nor require any changes to the checks.
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