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What would happen?

Paula Burkes, Staff Writer Published: June 29, 2008
If you died tomorrow, what would happen to your assets — or to your minor children, if you have them?

It’s a question few ponder, but all should, experts say.

“People put off estate planning because they don‘t know what to do. They don’t know what their goals or options are,” said Lee Holmes, Oklahoma City elderlaw attorney.

But such delays, he said, can be disastrous for their survivors, especially minor and disabled children.

If you don’t have a will or trust, the state has one for you.

“And the money you worked 40 years can go in a direction you never intended,” Holmes said.

Under Oklahoma law, one-third of the estate goes to the surviving spouse and two-thirds to the deceased’s children. It’s split 50-50 if there is only one child. Single people’s assets go to their parents.

Married people usually leave their assets to their spouse and children, Holmes said.

But single people’s assets — instead of to their significant others or elsewhere — will go to their parents, who often don’t need them, he said.

Other problems can arise when parents fail to name trustees to manage the funds of minor beneficiaries, or fail to specifically disinherit ne’er-do-well children who, without such disclaimers, will inherit funds as if there were no will.

Wills can prevent time delays on investments that often need decisions, said Alan J.

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