Most Oklahoma citizens are aware of the value of a will, but the efficacy trusts are less understood. A trust is a useful tool for those who wish for their estate to go to their designated beneficiaries with a minimum of probate interference, but the devices can also be costly to set up and maintain. Trusts might possibly be of the more use to Oklahoma citizens who do not qualify for the simplified probate process.
Some states grant access to a simplified small estate probate process for certain circumstances. If the estate is worth less than a certain amount, then the executor may submit a request for simplified probate. The court may then choose to authorize them to distribute the estate without undergoing the regular probate process. It may be less efficacious to set up a trust for an estate that may be eligible for simplified probate.
However, trusts have other advantages. They provide more flexibility than a traditional will and can be used to add unusual conditions that are not in a will, such as requiring that beneficiaries gain a certain level of education before they are eligible to inherit. Trusts are also effective at setting up long-term allowances or small disbursements to a beneficiary who is not able to deal responsibly with a large sum of money at once. Trusts are also private while the probate process makes the information contained in a will a matter of public record.
Regardless of whether an individual is most interested in wills, trusts or some other kind of estate planning tools, it may be to their advantage to seek the advice of a lawyer before making a decision. A lawyer may be able to present them with options and strategies and could draft the paperwork necessary for forming a will or creating a trust for a client.
Source: Forbes, "Should You Have A Trust?", Erik Carter, September 12, 2014