Teague & Wetsel, PLLC
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Edmond Estate Planning Blog

Veterans' benefits rates to increase in 2018

Oklahoma residents may be pleased to hear that in 2018 United States veterans, as well as Social Security benefit recipients, will receive the largest cost-of-living increase since 2012. Beginning December 1, 2017, all will see a 2 percent increase in payments. This will amount to approximately $25 for the average veteran, that is, about an additional $300 in 2018. The larger increase is due in part to a disastrous hurricane season in 2017. Both hurricanes Harvey and Irma wreaked significant havoc, driving gas and other prices up.

The prices of consumer goods are the measurement by which the government determines a cost of living adjustment each year. This measurement is known as the Consumer Price Index. The government examines the Consumer Price Index for the third quarter of the year (July through September), and compares it the same quarter of the previous year when deciding on how much to increase the cost of living adjustment. This increase affects around 1.96 million retired veterans, four million veterans with disabilities, 61 million individuals who receive Social Security benefits and 8 million individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Which type of federal benefits is available to me?

If you find that you are unable to work and hold gainful employment because of a medical condition, you know that it is placing your Oklahoma family at a risk for financial duress. You need income to support your family and take care of your own needs, but if you are physically or mentally unable to do so, it can be both disheartening and overwhelming. 

While your situation is serious, you have certain options available to you. You could be eligible for federal disability benefits through Social Security. Your options may include either Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income. The eligibility requirements for each are different, and you may find it beneficial to gain an understanding of your options and your right to seek support through some type of disability program.

How to transfer gas, oil and mineral rights into trusts

Estate planning is essential to the timely and less stressful administration of a decedent's estate. For decedents in Oklahoma who owned oil, gas, or mineral rights, prior planning is especially recommended. These matters can quickly become a complicated situation if preparation was not made for the transfer of those rights prior to death.

A great recommendation for the administration of these rights is for them to be placed into a living trust. This can be done in one of two ways, depending on the type of rights owned.

Attorneys can assist with commercial real estate transactions

Commercial real estate transactions are in a league of their own. As opposed to a simple residential real estate transaction, they present unique and complex issues that may necessitate the assistance of a commercial real estate transaction attorney.

Attorney Charles Wetsel offers 25 years of experience in real estate transactions, including commercial purchases and sales. He knows what to look for, and how to make sure you are protected from any issues that may arise. Further, he has successfully represented multiple clients who have found themselves caught in the middle of real estate disputes.

How is it decided whether a person can get SSD benefits?

An Oklahoman who is suffering from a disability, injury, condition or illness and believes he or she can get Social Security disability benefits must understand that it is not a simple matter of applying and being approved. There are steps to the process that must be followed. The Social Security Administration makes its decision based on five steps to determine if the person is disabled. It is also important to remember that if the claim is denied for any reason, there are options available to appeal the case.

First, the SSA will ask if the applicant is working. A person who works and earns over a certain amount per month will generally not be viewed as disabled. The amount is adjusted on an annual basis. For a person who is not working or has an average monthly income that comes to the current limit or below, the process will continue to step two and the medical condition. The medical condition must be "severe." By severe, it is meant that is significantly inhibits the person's ability to perform basic work activities like standing, walking, bending and remembering, among others. This must last for a minimum of 12 months.

Estate planning for farm successions

Although Oklahoma farmers cannot plan for the weather, they can plan for their farm succession. A solid transition plan is critical in making sure a farmer's wishes are established for the next generation.

A farm succession plan focuses on the future of the farm. When creating a succession plan, a farmer should focus on what the end result should be. This may include the future visions of the farm, income needed for retirement and health care and whether or not the farmer wants to stay involved in the farm operations. A farm succession plan may include transferring ownership to a family member, liquidating farm assets, selling the property or renting or leasing land and equipment. Risks need to be evaluated as well including cash flow problems, unresolved issues among family members and retirement funds.

Compensating adult children for home care

Getting old is a fact of life for most of us. As the population continues to age, care for older people is needed. Many older people in Oklahoma are not able to care for themselves exclusively, and rely on skilled nursing care or family members to meet their needs. If an adult child is helping their aging parents, there are ways for the parents to compensate them.

For many adult children, caring for an aging parent can be a full-time job, or at least a part time job with many hours. Sometimes a child has to give up their job to care for their parent. There can be a few options for parents to compensate their children for the sacrifices they may be making by taking care of them. First, they can pay their child pursuant to a caretaker contract.

Next step in your estate plan: choosing an executor

As if estate planning wasn't complicated enough, you are now considering who would be the most appropriate executor for your estate. The executor is the person who guides your will through probate, closing out your estate by paying off your final bills and distributing your belongings according to your expressed wishes.

While in many cases, the oldest child may be the most obvious choice, this may not be best in your situation. If you have taken the time to prepare your plan for when you leave this world, you certainly want to make the best possible choice for your executor.

Five estate planning documents a person needs

Oklahoma residents understand the value of estate planning. An estate plan is a wonderful tool to ensure a person's assets are transferred to the next generation in the person's desired manner. It can also be used to communicate a person's health care wishes. Although many may think estate planning is only for the wealthy, there are five documents almost everyone needs.

Regardless of the amount of a person's assets or the person's age, one important document everyone needs is a durable power of attorney. This document authorizes another person to act on their behalf if they become in capacitated. Advanced medical directives are also important. They dictate medical treatments that a person wants if they are not able to communicate their wishes. Advanced medical directives include a living will, power of attorney for health care and a Do Not Resuscitate order. A person should also consider having a will drafted. This document can list out where a person's assets should go if they pass away and can also list an estate executor and a guardian for the children. A person may also want to draft a letter of instruction. This is a non-legal document that communicates a person's thoughts and directions. Finally, a living trust may be created in order for a family to avoid probate.

Our firm is available to help with your tenant legal troubles

Recently, this Oklahoma legal blog provided an informative post on the rights that landlords have with respect to the individuals who lease their rental spaces. For example, under certain conditions a landlord may have the right to evict a tenant and retain their security deposit to compensate the landlord for losses incurred due to the tenant's malfeasance. Landlords can place certain restrictions on what activities tenants may engage in on their premises and may seek payment of missed rental checks and other costs when their tenants fall behind.

But as previously mentioned, tenants have rights, too. Landlords may not kick their tenants out of their properties without notice and landlords must abide by state and federal laws that prohibit disparate treatment in the housing market. A landlord may believe that they have good cause to remove a tenant from their rental property, but without ensuring that they have complied with all applicable laws their rental problem may become a major legal issue.


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Edmond, OK 73013

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