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Tag: estate plan Oklahoma

Charles Manson’s Family Fights Over His Body and Estate…Will Yours Fight Over Yours?

By Sarah Stewart Legal Group

Everyone has heard of Charles Manson, the Swastika-bearing, notorious cult leader who was sentenced to death in 1971 after being convicted of urging his followers to commit 9 murders. The most famous of these murders was the murder of then-pregnant actress and wife of director Roman Pulanski, Sharon Tate, and 3 of her friends.

Manson’s sentence was commuted to life in prison in 1972 after California abolished the death penalty. He spent almost 46 years in prison and was known for carving a swastika into his head before his court hearings.

Charles Manson has fascinated the public and earned a cult following from his rise to notoriety in the ’70s through his death in November 2017. Following his death, 3 people have come forward attempting to claim his body and his estate.

The dispute has caused Manson’s body to remain frozen in the morgue, under an alias, for over 3 months.

The “Heirs”

Jason Freeman claims to be Manson’s grandson through Manson’s deceased son, Charles Manson, Jr. who changed his name to Jay White before he committed suicide in the early 1990s.  He claims he communicated with Manson in the years before his death.

Michael Brunner is the son of Manson and ex-cult member Mary Brunner. He stated in a 1993 interview that he did not want to have a relationship with his father.

Both men want to cremate Manson’s body and hold a private ceremony to scatter the ashes.

Michael Channels was a long-time friend of Manson. They wrote each other for 30 years while Manson was in prison. Mr. Channels has presented a 2002 Last Will and Testament that he claims was made by Manson and disinherits all of Manson’s family members.

Mr. Channels claims he spoke to Manson about his plans after death and wants to carry out his wishes of scattering his “dust” in the desert.

Manson’s son, Brunner, seeks to claim the body and entire estate as the only true heir.

He claims White took a DNA test to prove his relation to Manson and the test came back negative.  He also claims the Will was fraudulent at worst and invalid at best as Channels signed the Will as a witness and the sole heir under the Will.

Court proceedings are underway to determine the heirs to the estate.

Your Solution

Even in the best of situations, the death of a loved one can bring out the worst in people.  Add in fame, wealth, or simply personal attachment to a belonging, and the battles can rage out of control for any family.  Charles Manson is not an exception, but rather an all to common example of how a family can feud after a loved one’s death.

If you want to avoid these kinds of headaches for your heirs, you need to establish a solid wealth and estate plan that includes a trust.

Though a Will is a good tool, it is open to dispute because it has to go to court to allow distribution of the assets.  A trust is not impenetrable, but is harder to attack.

If you want your heirs to have the easiest time possible finishing your affairs after you’re gone, you need to reach out to estate and financial planning professionals as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it is to get started!

3 Considerations When Choosing an Executor

By Sarah Stewart Legal Group

When choosing an executor, or deciding if you want to be one yourself, remember the job isn’t easy. The executor manages the estate of the deceased, usually while in the throes of their own grief.  They are responsible for taking the estate through the court system, accounting for estate assets, and filing any necessary tax returns.  The job is thankless, difficult, and can last for a long time, depending on the circumstances of the estate.

Due to these difficulties, there are some things to consider when choosing an Executor:

(1) Work Ethic

Generally speaking, the better your estate plan, the less work your Executor (or Trustee) has to do.  However, if you have a Will in your estate plan, you will need to ensure the Executor you choose has a strong work ethic.  The more assets you have, the more important this quality will be.  Probate can last for a long time, and can cause friction in even the best of families, so you need to be sure your Executor has the perseverance to handle these kinds of issues, work through them, and hang on for the ride.

(2) Focused

You need to be sure your Executor is someone who can reasonably organize all of your assets and follow your instructions for how to transfer your assets.  Your Executor must be focused and reliable.

(3) Capable

Your Executor will have to be able to get information from financial institutions.  They may also be responsible for selling and/or distributing your assets to fulfill your wishes.  You need someone who is capable of working with your financial institutions and assets. You need someone capable and trustworthy.

 

There are many ways to make the job easier for your Executor.  Avoiding probate is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your loved ones.  One way you can do this is by establishing a trust.  You can also make sure your life insurance policies, retirement accounts, bank accounts, etc. have named, and updated, beneficiaries.  Beneficiaries and joint owners receive their funds without having to go to Court for a probate.

In Oklahoma, we also use Transfer on Death Deeds for real property.  If you do not have a trust and want to make the Executor’s job as easy as possible, you should consider a Transfer on Death Deed for the real estate you own.

The Deed only becomes effective when the owner dies.  So, before death, the property can be sold or transferred in any way the owner needs without the Beneficiary’s permission.

To establish your best estate plan, contact a professional today!

5 Estate Planning Concerns for Single Parents

By Sarah Stewart Legal Group

For married couples, many decisions regarding who manages assets after death and makes medical decisions for their spouse can be relatively easy.  When a family involves a single parent, those questions can become more complicated.

Today we’ll discuss 5 concerns single parents should consider when making their estate plans.

(1) Who Will Take Care of the Kids?

Who would you want to take care of your minor children if you’re unable to?  If you are a divorced parent, the default will be the other parent, if that parent is living. If that parent dies before you, or for another reason is not in the children’s lives, you will need to choose someone you trust to care for your children.  If that person does not have the financial resources to take on an extra child or more, you may want to consider establishing a trust for the care of the children.  These trusts can be funded with life insurance proceeds, or any other assets you have.

(2) Are You Insured?

As a single parent, your financial responsibilities are greater than married families.  You carry the entire burden yourself.  Be sure to look into life insurance and disability policies so that you and your children can be covered financially during any times of disability or death.

(3) What Happens if You’re Incapacitated?

All estate plans should include incapacity planning.  If the children are adults, they can help make medical and financial decisions for their parent if they’re incapacitated.  If they are not adults, you will need to find a family member or close friend who can help make medical and financial decisions for you when you are unable.

(4) Do You Have a Trust?

If you have young children, a trust is the only way to ensure they will not receive their money until you are ready for them to and to control the way those assets can be managed.  If you have an ex still living and the children are minors, without a trust, the money will go directly to your ex to manage for the children as he or she sees fit.  If that situation doesn’t sit well with you, you will need a trust for your children with a manager that you trust to handle their assets correctly.

(5) Have You Updated Your Estate Plan?

Estate plans should be reviewed regularly to update beneficiary designations and ensure the documents still meet your intentions.  Transitional periods such as marriage, divorce, and when minors become adults are all very important times to review all plans and update them.  Don’t wait.  Take out your plan today and review it.

Single parents have a lot of responsibilities.  It can be easy to forget about the details of planning for your children if you die or are unable to care for them.  However, planning is even more important for single parent families, since they do not have a default person to rely on.

Reach out to professionals to help you refine your own estate plans.

What If I Don’t Want My Family to Get Anything When I Die?

By: Sarah Stewart Legal Group

Sometimes families don’t get along.  Sometimes there are people you just don’t like who are your family members.  Since we don’t get to pick our family, it’s not all that uncommon. So, what do you do when you don’t want your family to inherit your hard-earned money and assets?

Lately, more and more people are asking how to disinherit those family members they don’t like very much.  The answer:  make an estate plan.

If you do not have a Will or Trust in place, your assets will pass according to Oklahoma law.  That law may include giving assets to family members you don’t want to get them. Who wants the government deciding who gets their assets when they die?

So, in Oklahoma, how can you disinherit family in your estate plan?

(1) Children

If you want to disinherit your children in Oklahoma, you have to make it clear in your estate plan that disinheritance is your intention.  You will usually state your family history (marriage, children, etc) and if you are looking to disinherit a child, you will want to state that directly.

(2) Spouse

Under Oklahoma law, the spouse has the right to take a marital share of the property upon the other spouse’s death.  So, to disinherit your spouse in any way, your spouse must agree to the disinheritance.  Keep in mind that your spouse will still have the right to the marital property as long as he or she is living, and can always ask for the marital share of property in Court.  If the spouse has agreed to the disinheritance, it is less likely he or she will succeed, but it is still possible the Court would rule in his or her favor.

(3) Other Family

If you have a Will or Trust in place, no other family members are automatically entitled to inherit from you.  If you do not have a Will or Trust in place, your property will pass under the Oklahoma laws of intestacy.  Generally speaking, these laws allow those who are your closest relatives to split your assets.

For example, if you die with a spouse, but no children, your spouse would split your assets with your parents and/or siblings. If you do not have a spouse and children, your parents are first in line to inherit your assets, then your siblings, then grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.

The only way to truly control who receives assets from your estate when you die is to plan for your death.  There is a common myth that if we have a Will or Trust, we will die.  The truth is, you will die anyway, so you might as well have a plan for the people you care most about.

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