What is Estate Planning?

Estate Planning is the area of law concerned with:

  • Planning for Your Property (or Assets) (that is, the management of your assets during your life and the administration and distribution of your assets after your death); and

  • Planning for Your Person (that is, your medical, health, and personal care decisions).

Estate Planning involves services ranging from fundamental planning (such as a basic Will or Living Trust, Durable Powers of Attorney, and Advance Directives for Health Care) to advanced planning for estate tax avoidance and other special or complex purposes (such as wealth preservation strategies). 

Estate Planning is essential for most people.  It is a primary step in planning your personal affairs.  In essence, Estate Planning is the process of getting your affairs in order for the convenience and benefit of your beneficiaries and you. 

The primary purpose of an estate plan is to carry out your goals and wishes.  Clients benefit from having a legal structure set up to carry out their wishes and from gaining the peace of mind that their affairs are in order.

For more information about Your Estate Planning Goals, click here.  

For more information about Living Trust Estate Plans, click here.

And, for more information about Estate Planning, please read this paper: Estate Planning for You (and Those Important to You)

In addition, read this Article at and other articles posted there. 

What Questions Are Addressed by Estate Planning?

Here are some common questions that are addressed by Estate Planning:

"Do I need a Will? Or, do I need a Trust?" 

"How can I make things easier for my family and loved ones in the event of my death or incapacity?"

"How can I guarantee that the people, charities, and other beneficiaries I want to receive my property at my death will actually receive it?"

"What is probate? How can I avoid it?" 

"What are estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer taxes? How can I avoid or minimize them?"

"What plans do I need to make now for the care of my children in the event of my death or incapacity?"

"Who will make personal and medical decisions for me if I become unable to do so?"

"Who will take care of my property and affairs for me if I become unable to do so?"

"What do I need to know about Wills, Living Trusts, Advance Directives (Living Wills), Powers of Attorney, and Joint Tenancy?"

"Is the estate plan I have now the right one for me?"

"What will happen to my business if I die or become disabled?"

You need Estate Planning if you want answers to questions like those above.  The greatest benefits of planning are often intangible:  Avoiding problems and simplifying matters for family and loved ones at emotionally difficult times.

In this respect, it's important that someone you trust be ready to help you with your affairs, not only at your death but while you're living and unable to take care of those things yourself.  Estate Planning provides a practical, legal structure for this to happen.  Children of aging parents or other loved ones are often in the best position to help encourage older parents to take care of their affairs.

If your own Estate Planning isn't done while you are living, the state law of intestacy (that is, death without a Will) or descent and distribution will dictate what happens to your assets.  The law may not do anything you want; it often requires probate; and it won't address many of the questions noted above.

Many people question whether they have an "estate."  You do if you have any assets you won't use up during your lifetime.  For example, your estate for Estate Planning purposes can include your home, any other real estate you own, cars, bank accounts, investments, mineral and royalty interests, retirement plans, and life insurance.  Although many people think of Wills and Probate when they hear the term "Estate Planning," Estate Planning also involves planning for assets that don't pass under a Will (for example, life insurance, retirement plans, IRA's, joint tenancy property, etc.)

Estate Planning Consultation

It's very important that you consider all your options so you can make an informed decision with respect to your Estate Planning needs.  Forrest Danley, Attorney and the Danley Law Firm don't limit those options to Wills and Probate but discuss what best benefits a client under the client's particular goals and circumstances.  Since each person's estate plan is unique, we work with our clients in a very personal and individualized way.

We have the privilege of helping clients from across the state take care of their Estate Planning.  Our primary goals include providing competent legal services in an understandable and cost-effective manner and performing services the way we would like them done for me if we were the client.

Our Initial Estate Planning Consultation is designed to help prospective clients determine if they want or need Estate Planning.

We hope you will Contact Us if you or someone you know is interested in Estate Planning, including an Initial Estate Planning Consultation and an Oklahoma Living Trust Estate Plan.