An estate plan can include multiple documents that can be customized to fit your goals and needs. A Tulsa estate planning attorney can help you determine what documents are ideal for your situation. It can be helpful to understand some of the most common parts of a comprehensive estate plan.

A Will

Your last will and testament is one of the most common and basic legal instruments in an estate plan. It enables you to:

  1. Inventory the assets and debts that belong to your estate.
  2. Name an executor to manage and distribute the estate after your death, as well as pay debts, taxes, and expenses.
  3. State the heirs to the assets in your estate.
  4. List a guardian for your minor children.

A will can be changed during your lifetime to reflect your needs as long as you have the testamentary capacity to create and update the will. Additions or losses in the family can result in changing heirs or naming a new executor. Asset additions and losses can also change the makeup of your will.

Although a will is useful, there are some drawbacks. It is a public document, meaning that your wishes and your estate become public record when probate occurs. A will does not keep your estate from probate. If the probate court finds your will to be invalid, a prior and valid version of your will is going to be used. If there is no prior version, your estate will be distributed by the state’s succession laws. An attorney can help you create a valid will to limit this possibility.


Your estate plan can have one or multiple trusts, depending on your needs. Like a will, a trust is a legal way for you to inventory your estate and determine the beneficiaries of your assets. You can also name a trustee to handle the protection and management of the trust. A trust is different because it is a private entity, and it avoids probate court. When you pass, the ownership of the trust passes from you to the trustee and never to the ownership of the estate.

Trusts can be irrevocable or revocable. Revocable trusts ensure that you have control over the assets and their distribution, and you can easily change their contents and terms whenever you want. Irrevocable trusts can be changed, but the process is much more difficult. An irrevocable trust, however, can avoid some taxes during your lifetime that a revocable trust can’t. Trusts can be created for individual beneficiaries, and they can state certain requirements for the distribution of their assets.

Power of Attorney

Although few people like to consider it, there are many ways, especially near the end of your life, that you can become incapacitated or completely disabled. Illness, developmental conditions, and sudden accidents can result in you being unable to make decisions for your own personal care and well-being. Powers of attorney can give someone the legal ability to make such choices for you in these difficult situations.

  1. Durable Power of Attorney: This gives a trusted individual the legal ability to take financial actions and make decisions for you. These may include paying your bills, settling debts, handling investment accounts, and selling properties.
  2. Healthcare Power of Attorney: This document provides a trusted person with the ability to make medical decisions for you. These include the institution where you receive care, the medical professionals who give you care, the medical care you receive, and how to handle end-of-life and life support decisions. This individual may also take direction from your healthcare directives.

Powers of attorney can give you some certainty about how you will be cared for.

Healthcare Directives

Your healthcare directives ensure that you are cared for during your life the way that you want to be if you become incapacitated. They can list what you do and do not consent to for medical care as well as your spiritual beliefs for treatment.


Q: How Much Does an Estate Have to Be Worth to Go to Probate in Oklahoma?

A: An estate must go through the formal probate process if it is worth $200,000 or more. If it is worth less than this, it qualifies for summary probate, which is a simplified version of the probate process. An estate may also qualify for a small estate affidavit if the estate is valued at $20,000 or less.

An estate can also avoid probate if proper estate planning is used. Some techniques like joint tenancy or joint ownership can help assets avoid probate. A more effective way to keep assets from probate is through the use of trusts.

Q: What Are the Two Main Components Involved in Estate Planning?

A: Estate plans include several important documents. In the most basic estate plan, you should include a will and a financial or durable power of attorney. A will lists the distribution of your estate’s assets, the guardians for any minor children you have, and the executor to administer your estate. A durable power of attorney gives a trusted individual the power to make legal and financial decisions on your behalf.

Your attorney can help you determine which components are most effective for your specific situation.

Q: What Are the Important Factors to Consider in Estate Planning?

A: Every person’s considerations in an estate plan differ, but some of the most common things to look at include:

  • How changes in your life will affect your estate plan, such as marriage, divorce, and retirement
  • The needs of your heirs and beneficiaries, including unique challenges related to disabled loved ones or minor children and grandchildren
  • The cost of living over time
  • The importance of avoiding probate court
  • A full understanding of your assets, income, and debts in your estate, along with the financial needs and ability you will have during your life

Q: How Many Steps Are Involved in the Estate Planning Process?

A: The number of steps involved in the estate planning process depends on the documents you include in the plan, the unique challenges you face, and whether you work with an attorney to simplify the process. Common steps include:

  1. Inventorying and appraising the estate
  2. Determining beneficiary needs
  3. Understanding tax and estate laws in your state
  4. Deciding how your estate will be distributed
  5. Planning for your care if you become incapacitated
  6. Looking over the plan with an attorney to be sure that it is enforceable
  7. Reviewing and updating the plan throughout your life

Contact Stange Law Firm in Tulsa

For you to receive the benefits that come from a comprehensive estate plan, it needs to be enforceable. Contact Stange Law Firm for experienced legal support.