Every Person Should Have a Will
Video Transcribed: My name is Brian L. Jackson and I’m a Tulsa father’s rights attorney. Today I want to talk to you about a little bit of a different topic. How can you make sure as a father that all of your years of hard work actually benefit your children?
Guys, we all, as men, our role in the family is often as the provider, as the guy who busts his backside to try to provide a better life for your children than what you had. That’s the American dream. Right?
So, how can you make sure that when you’re gone, your kids get the benefit of that hard work? Or how about if you have life insurance, how can you make sure that they get the benefit of that policy you’ve been paying on all those years if something happens to you when you’re gone. You’re not going to be there, so what can you do? This is where proper estate planning comes into play.
This is a little bit of a different topic than what I typically talk about on here because a lot of what I talk about is when you’re in the midst of a contested situation or when some kind of a problem has occurred or how to avoid a problem. Today, I’m thinking more about planning for the future.
None of us are immortal, so at some point in time, we all face our mortality. As fathers, we want to do right by our children. So, something to think about. First of all, I think every person out there should have a will.
The will has a couple of things that it allows you to do. First of all, you can specify who gets what out of whatever personal and real property, and if you have it, intellectual property or investments you own. You can specify who gets it.
If you want to make sure that your children get at least some of what you leave behind, you can do that using a will. Now you should be aware, and this is a separate topic, but you should be aware you can’t fully disinherit a spouse in Oklahoma.
They’re going to be entitled to a certain share of the marital estate, and they’re entitled to a certain share of whatever you leave behind. But you can certainly make sure to make provisions for your children.
Something else to think about, if you have young minor children and you either own a life insurance policy or have anything that you consider at least somewhat valuable, for example, investments, savings, a house, any other real property, a valuable vehicle. Or guys, this is Oklahoma. A lot of us have firearms. You want to make sure your boys or your girls get your firearms. This is another thing to think about.
If they’re young children, and it’s going to be a few years before they become adults, you might also want to consider a trust. Now trusts and wills can do different things. Wills are specifically spelling out how you want your estate upon your passing to be distributed. And you, among other things, can also specify who becomes the guardian of your children in that situation, if they’re minors. That’s an important thing to think about.
Now, if the mother survives you and the mother’s fit, the children are going to go live with the mother. It doesn’t matter who you specify as guardian. However, if both of you pass on, then having a guardian named is very important because otherwise, it’s whoever decides to come forward. Or potentially, if nobody comes forward, the kids could wind up in DHS custody, and nobody wants that.
So, it’s important to name a guardian. But what about the trust? Well, what the trust can do for you is the trust acts as a legal entity that can own certain things, and you can set up terms in the trust dealing with how the property is to be handled.
So, for example, say you have a particular gun you consider to be a family heirloom, and you want to leave it to your son or your daughter. Or let’s say that your mother gave you her jewelry before she passed on, and you want to make sure one of your children specifically gets that jewelry.
You can spell this out in a trust. The advantage of that over the will is if it’s in the trust, the child doesn’t technically own that asset because it’s owned by the trust, but the child can benefit from it.
The trust can be structured in such a way as to permit the trust to hold the property for a period of time, but then when the child attains the age of majority, they get the asset. If you have life insurance that’s anything other than a fairly small policy, this is a serious thing to consider.
Because there are some real problems that can arise if you have a child that has real assets and a family of survivors that might or might not take an interest in those. You want to know how that can go wrong.
You look at some of these child stars where they become wealthy before they’re 18, and their parents wind up wasting all of their assets. That can happen. That could be your child if your child becomes the beneficiary of a large life insurance policy while they’re still a minor.
So again, this is a good reason to consider a trust because you can name a neutral third party as trustee, and that person can then protect those assets in your child’s name until they attain the age of majority. However, if they become 18 or you can make them older than that, if you want to, to ensure that they get the benefit of that asset or that money and it’s not wasted.
And you may want to do this too to protect the child from themselves for a while. I mean, if you’re talking teenagers, if a teenager gets a large chunk of money, they’re going to waste it, most likely. I mean, I’m not saying this to be mean. It’s just a fact of life.
Teenagers think they know a lot more about the world than they do. It may be that you want to make sure that money is there for them to go to college or get their life started and isn’t wasted on an expensive vehicle or going partying in Cancun or whatever things that appeal to your teenage child at that particular moment.
This is where thinking about estate planning is important, and this is where you want to get a good lawyer involved who knows how to do this so that you can get it set up ahead of time. Now we would certainly hope you would live long enough to see your children become adults and grow up.
But things happen, and life is very unpredictable. It’s always good to plan ahead for a worst-case scenario. So, this is something to think about as a father who loves their children, how you can protect them in the event that you pass on and provide for them in the event you won’t be to continue to earn that paycheck and bring money home.
My name is Brian L. Jackson, I’m a dads’ rights attorney in Tulsa and we’ve been talking about how to protect your children in the event of your passing.