Things Which Don’t Require Probate

Last Updated on Monday, 10 September 2012 10:18 Written by Chris Griswold Monday, 10 September 2012 10:18

At some point in everyone’s life, it will happen.  A loved one will pass away and you’ll be involved with the probate (or some other administration) of that person’s estate.  You’ll immediately feel overwhelmed (as most of my probate clients do).  Depending upon the facts and circumstances, you can’t always get around probate.  However, the good news is that not everything has to be probated.  Some things you can handle yourself, without the help of an attorney.  See more below (and don’t forget to click on my Facebook or YouTube links below to also see my short video on this material).

Things Which Don’t Require Probate

I get lots of phone calls from people who just lost a loved one.  They’re upset, grieving and not sure about probate, how it works, what they can do to make things easier and the like.  You may have been there yourself.  This month I want to spread the good news about things which don’t have to be probated….

They include:

a) The payment of proceeds from life insurance policies (and any other policies of insurance) whereby the insurance company, upon the death of such loved one, pays the proceeds directly to such named beneficiary(ies),

b) Real property held by two people as joint tenants “with right of survivorship.”   This avoids the probate of such real property as, by operation of law, the property vests fully in the survivor of such two persons (even though afterwards you’ll still need to do an “affidavit of joint tenancy” with the title insurance company when obtaining title insurance solely in your own name or when selling the property to a subsequent purchaser),

c) Funds sitting in bank accounts which have a “payable on death” designation on file (this prevents people from having to probate the bank accounts in order to obtain the funds),

d) Assets deposited into trusts (avoiding probate, among other things, is why so many people use trusts).  Trusts themselves have to be “administered” after the death of such person, however, such administration is often a much lesser ordeal than probate (although not always),

e) IRA’s, pension plans, employee benefit and profit sharing plans, annuities, etc… which have designated beneficiaries listed on such accounts, and

f) Stocks, bonds and mutual funds which are held jointly between two (2) persons or which are held within a trust.

What My Clients Are Saying

“Chris has worked on several projects for both me and my clients over the last several years including building acquisitions, preparation of new business documents and lease transactions.  I have found that he is very dependable on the turnaround of document preparation and the pricing he has given me is more than fair for the excellent work he performs.  Chris’ extensive knowledge in real estate and business transactions has been a valuable asset to me as a small business owner.”
Renee Reneau / Owner / Reneau Properties, LLC / Edmond, Oklahoma

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Protecting Your Young Adult

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 January 2012 09:56 Written by Chris Griswold Thursday, 12 January 2012 09:27

For those of you with children that are (or will be) 18 years of age or older and unmarried, this one is for you.  Parenthood, like the joy of putting up Christmas lights, is laced with love, joy and fear (just like the scene of “Clark W.” putting up lights on his roof in the movie Christmas Vacation).  Regrettably, we all hear about young adults (who are really just kids) that have unexpected, near-death accidents.  These accidents seem, for whatever reason, to happen most often during the holiday season and/or on Spring Breaks (which is just around the corner).  Afterwards, these “children” are admitted to hospitals for care and that’s where the relevance of this topic comes into play.  Accordingly, if you have (or will have) children which potentially fit into this 18+ category, read more below (and don’t forget to click on my Facebook or YouTube links below to also see my short video on this material).

Protecting Your Young Adult

Fact Pattern: Your 19 year old daughter is hit by a drunk driver while driving home from college for the holidays and is admitted to a nearby hospital (we all know how horribly often this type of scenario happens).  Luckily, the hospital’s administration found enough good identification on your daughter to enable them to quickly contact you.  You rush off to the hospital to comfort your daughter.  After speaking to doctors and nurses, you understand the prognosis.  You tell the doctor what you want to do, what care you want your daughter to receive going forward and what decisions you’ve made concerning your daughter’s medical care.  When you’ve finished speaking, the doctor gives you a funny look….

Issue: The doctor tells you that, since your daughter is over 18 and unmarried, she is legally an adult and the hospital will have to make all of these decisions for your daughter – unless you have a medical, durable power of attorney which your daughter has previously signed appointing you (or somebody else she trusts) with such power of attorney over her.

You can’t believe what you’re hearing. In your mind (and in reality) your daughter is just a baby and, except during the school months of the year, still a member of your household.  You should be the one making decisions, not the hospital.  However, your daughter is 18+ so she’s legally an adult.  The upshot is you should have, at some point after she turned 18, had her sign one of these.  Folks, this stuff happens every day.  Don’t let it happen to you….

If you need one of these medical, durable (means it stays in effect whether or not your child is still competent or capable of making decisions for themselves) powers of attorney for your child, let me know.  I’ll be glad to send you the form for free….

What My Clients Are Saying

“Chris Griswold, P.C. has been an invaluable part of my real estate management team.  His knowledge of contracts and commercial real estate law has been priceless.  Without question, his candidness and attention to contractual details has kept us on track and has been key in preventing potential pitfalls and financial losses.  He has been the key man, instrumental in navigating us through the commercial real estate market.”

Dr. Bo Sofola / Urologist / Ardmore, Oklahoma
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Trust Talk

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 October 2020 06:38 Written by Chris Griswold Friday, 1 April 2011 08:40

When your last name is “Griswold,” you get asked a lot of questions.  One of those is “…hey, is your family anything like the one in the movies?” Another one, given my line of work, is “…what’s the difference between a Trust and a Will?” There are several differences.  Those of you who are yearning for learning, read below….

Trust Talk

Without getting too complicated, the best way to get a handle on how Trusts (a/k/a joint, living, revocable trusts) and Wills (a/k/a Last Will and Testaments) differ is to set it out like this:

1)      Probate.  If you have a Will and (for the lack of a better word) “die,” the ones you love and leave behind will have to “probate” your will.  Probate is a court-driven process whereby a personal representative is appointed and letters testamentary (the written authority of such personal representative to act on behalf of your estate and approved by the judge) are issued, along with other required procedures.  The deal with probate is that it usually takes a lot of time.  With a Trust, there is no probate.  In essence (and outside of minor, legal procedures), the transfer of your assets (which are set forth in your Trust) to the successor trustee of your Trust (or the transfer of same immediately to your designated beneficiaries) is automatic.  In other words, no waiting.

2)   Money.  As a rule, lawyers will generally charge you more money to draw up a Trust than a Will.  Why? There’s a lot more paperwork to a Trust than a Will, a lot more….  However, the amount of money you’d have to spend probating a Will is, as a rule, a lot more than it costs to have a Trust drawn up.  So, although you’ll spend less money getting a Will done initially (as opposed to a Trust), the amount of money your family members will ultimately have to spend probating your Will (after you die) will more than make up for whatever you initially saved (when they ultimately have to hire a lawyer to probate your Will).  Accordingly, in the long run, Trusts are cheaper (and arguably do a much better job of setting forth and accomplishing your intentions after you die).

3)   Public Record.  One of the most sensitive issues associated with probating Wills is that, since probate=a court proceeding, all the information related to a probate is of “public record.”  This means that, if someone wanted to search through court house records, they could find out how much you are/were worth, how much of it was distributed, and to whom.  Pretty scary stuff….

What My Clients Are Saying

“Chris Griswold has a way of simplifying complex legal issues.  He is quick to respond, efficient and professional in his delivery of services and fair and up front with his cost.  Professional Insurors considers Chris an asset to both our business and our clients.  Our trust in Chris grows each and every time we call upon his expertise.”
Kelly Miller / President / Professional Insurors Agency, LLC / Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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