Sarah Stewart Legal Group, PLLC

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Month: May 2017

3 Most Often Missed Assets in Estate Planning

By Sarah Stewart Legal Group

If you have a Trust or a Will set up, you may think your job is done.  It’s all smooth sailing from here.  You’re set!

But, the truth is, your job is just beginning. A trust is only as good as what you put in it, and a Will does not avoid probate.  So, you need to have a back up plan for a Will, and make sure your trust is funded, if that’s your chosen plan.

It’s easy to have real estate placed into a trust.  Often, the attorney can do that for you.  Funding your trust, or avoiding probate on other assets can be harder. Attorneys cannot easily access these accounts on your behalf and with so many options to open accounts, some can easily be missed.

Make sure you have included the following most often missed assets in your trust or beneficiary plans.

(1) Bank Accounts

There are so many options available for opening banking accounts today.  You can click a few buttons online, put in a few bucks, and you’re all set.

Whether it be checking or savings, you want to make sure your accounts are titled in the trust you created, or have payable on death beneficiaries and powers of attorney if you do not have a trust.  That way, when something happens, your bank accounts can automatically go exactly where you want them to or be managed in a way you like.

(2) Retirement Accounts

You can leave your trust, or anyone you would like, as a beneficiary on your retirement accounts.

People who have worked for decades for an organization can forget to update beneficiaries, or may even forget what company holds their accounts.  On the other hand, those who have changed jobs frequently nay not have rolled their accounts over and have several different accounts.  Keep track of this information and update beneficiaries after major life changes.

(3) Stocks, Bonds, Etc.

Much like retirement accounts, these are assets people tend to hold for a long time and can sometimes forget about. Also, like retirement accounts, these items usually allow you to choose one or more beneficiaries.

Be sure to keep track of all of these types of assets you own and keep beneficiaries updated.

Making a plan for your family when you die is just the beginning.  You will need to fund your trust with all of your most important assets, or make a plan for distribution in addition to a Will, if you have chosen a Will for your estate planning.

You will also want to update and change your plans as life changes. Adding and removing beneficiaries, and updating assets are vital to keeping your plan effective throughout your lifetime.

Or course, if you have not begun you estate plan at all, you will want to reach out to professionals who can evaluate your goals and walk you through your options and the process of planning.

4 Things You Have to Do to List On Homeshare Sites Legally in Oklahoma City

By Sarah Stewart Legal Group

Homeshare sites like AirBnB and HomeAway have grown in popularity over the last few years.  In response to this growth, many cities have enacted regulations and requirements for people to list their extra rooms on homeshare sites. Oklahoma has not updated its policies regarding homeshares in several years.

Due to the lack of homeshare friendly regulations, even renting out 1 bedroom in your home leaves you subject to Oklahoma City’s bed and breakfast regulations.

So, what do you have to do to legally list your Oklahoma City room(s) on a homeshare site?

(1) Residence

The home you are listing on the site must be where you live most of the time, your primary residence.

(2) Zoning and Licensing

You will need to get a permit for special zoning from the City. You also need licenses from the City. If you are regularly leasing out your home, you may need a commercial zoning permit, which can cost about $2,700 per year. You can call the City at 405-297-2623 for more information.

You may also need licensing from the Oklahoma County Health Department, especially if you are serving food.  You will need an OK County Health Dept inspection.

(3) Taxes

If you list on a homeshare site, you will be responsible for sales tax and could be responsible for a 5.5% hotel tax.

(4) Building Codes

If you are renting more than 4 bedrooms out, you may need a review for International Building Code compliance. You may also be subject to fire marshal inspections and Americans with Disabilities Act regulations if the rental has more than 4 bedrooms.

Though it is tempting to make a little extra money by renting out your spare bedroom, be sure you know the law and the consequences of breaking that law before you list your homeshare.

Please note, this article applies to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma only.  Other cities and states will have different laws for you to follow.

4 Ways to Avoid Probate Without a Trust

By: Sarah Stewart Legal Group

Many people we talk to are interested in making life as easy as possible for the loved ones they leave behind once they die.

One important way to help your family as much as possible is to provide an estate plan that avoids probate.  A great tool to avoid probate is a trust.  Sometimes, though, people are not comfortable with a trust.

There are still some ways to avoid probate if you do not want to use a trust.

(1) Transfer on Death Deed

In Oklahoma, real property can be transferred with a Transfer on Death Deed filed in the County where the property is held.  A benefit of the Transfer on Death Deed is that the property does not change ownership until the owner’s death. So, it is not subject to the creditor claims of beneficiaries and the owner can sell, lease, etc. at any time without agreement by the beneficiaries.

One con of the TOD Deed is if your heirs want to claim their interests in the property, they have to file an Affidavit and a death certificate within 9 months of the death of the owner. Otherwise, the property will become property of the deceased owner’s estate and have to go through probate.

(2) Payable on Death Accounts

Many banking institutions will allow you to name a payable on death beneficiary for your accounts.  Once you die, your beneficiary simply has to take your death certificate to the bank to access your accounts.  Of course, if the beneficiary dies before you do, you must be sure to update your information, or the money will go to your estate and have to go through probate.

(3) Beneficiaries

Life insurance, retirement accounts, stocks and bonds, and other assets will allow you to name a beneficiary, or several beneficiaries, to the account.  The beneficiary can access the accounts on your death without having to go through probate.  You will need to remember to keep your beneficiaries updated if you decide to go this route without any other estate plan.  If a beneficiary has died before you, your family will usually have to go through probate to clear up title for the company holding the assets.

(4) Joint Tenant with Rights of Survivorship

Real and personal property can be held as joint tenants with right of survivorship.  Think of when you own a bank account jointly with your spouse, or when you and your spouse purchase property together.  These are properties held as joint tenants with right of surviorship.  That means when one of you dies, the other gets full ownership of the property.

If you have a joint tenant on your property, that property is subject to the debts and liens of the other owner.  And, you must remember to make some sort of plan for after the survivor dies.  Otherwise, the property will have to go through probate.

If probate avoidance is your greatest estate planning goal, there are several ways you can accomplish your goal.  Be sure to reach out to professionals in order to help you find the most effective plan for you. And please remember, these options may not be the best for you if you are also concerned about planning for your incapacity.

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