Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Candidate Forum – Oklahoma District 61 State Representative

One week from today there will be a candidate forum for the five candidates for Oklahoma District 61 State Representative.  The event will be at the PTCI Engineering Building at 607 S. Main Street in Guymon, Oklahoma from 6:30 – 9:00 p.m. and hosted by the Texas County Republican Party. See the full letter here with all the information.  According to the Oklahoma State Election Board website, the five candidates are all Republicans with no Democrats running. 

The upcoming election is to replace Representative Gus Blackwell who is term limited.  District 61 covers the following Counties in the Oklahoma Panhandle and Northwest Oklahoma: Cimarron, Texas, Beaver, Harper, Ellis, and parts of Woodward.
The person who fills this position will impact the legal community and citizens of all types in this area and throughout our State. 
 

If our office may be of assistance to you in these areas, do not hesitate to contact us at (580) 338-6503 or at coryhicks@fieldandhicks.com or using any of our contact information in the profile.  You can also visit www.fieldandhicks.com for more information. 
This blog contains general information and the opinions of the author - not legal advice; you should seek the advice of competent counsel (attorney/lawyer) when considering any legal issues.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Beneficiary Designations – Part 3

In the last post, we considered the following hypothetical example to illustrate some major points about beneficiary designations:
 
Consider the following example.  A father dies, leaving three adult children.  His wife predeceased him.  His will reads that his estate will be split equally between his three children under those circumstances.  However, as the family goes through all the documentation left behind, his retirement account from his work, which is a substantial part of what he owned at death, was payable to his wife, and since she predeceased, then to the oldest son alone by name under beneficiary designations on the account.  

The legal result will be that dad’s work will pay out the entire retirement account to the named beneficiaries – which in this case was the oldest child alone.  The assets subject to the last will and testament will pass to the three children in equal shares. 

Is this a good result or a bad result or something in the middle?  This mainly depends, at least from the father’s perspective, on intent. 

The father may have intended to leave more to his oldest child for a good reason.  You can fill in the blank with whatever you consider a good reason.  Perhaps it was a reward for staying and working in the family business for years – which may have increased the overall estate for the other children.  Perhaps the older child gave investment advice to the father through the years regarding the account, and the gift was a reimbursement and token of thanks for the help through the years.  Perhaps the father knew the older child would share with the younger children or that the younger children would blow the money on drugs.  Whatever the reason, the main issue is whether the father had an intentional reason.    

On the other hand, if the father set up the retirement account to pass to the oldest child only because the oldest child was the only child on the father’s first day of work when he set up the account, and father never changed the account through the years, it is probably a bad result.

A major takeaway from this post is that it is necessary to coordinate beneficiary designations with estate planning documents such as wills and trusts.


If our office may be of assistance to you in these areas, do not hesitate to contact us at (580) 338-6503 or at coryhicks@fieldandhicks.com or using any of our contact information in the profile.  You can also visit www.fieldandhicks.com for more information. 
 
This blog contains general information and the opinions of the author - not legal advice; you should seek the advice of competent counsel (attorney/lawyer) when considering any legal issues.
 
 
 
 

 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Beneficiary Designations – Part 2

As discussed in the last post: the main thing to understand about beneficiary designations is that they pass property independently of the terms of any established will or trust. 

Consider the following example.  A father dies, leaving three adult children.  His wife predeceased him.  His will reads that his estate will be split equally between his three children under those circumstances.  However, as the family goes through all the documentation left behind, his retirement account from his work, which is a substantial part of what he owned at death, was payable to his wife, and since she predeceased, then to the oldest son alone by name under beneficiary designations on the account.  

The legal result will be that dad’s work will pay out the entire retirement account to the named beneficiaries – which in this case was the oldest child alone.  The assets subject to the last will and testament will pass to the three children in equal shares. 

This may have been intentional or unintentional, and it may be a major problem or a non event to those left behind, as the next post will explore.
 

If our office may be of assistance to you in these areas, do not hesitate to contact us at (580) 338-6503 or at coryhicks@fieldandhicks.com or using any of our contact information in the profile.  You can also visit www.fieldandhicks.com for more information. 

This blog contains general information and the opinions of the author - not legal advice; you should seek the advice of competent counsel (attorney/lawyer) when considering any legal issues.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Beneficiary Designations – Part 1

When doing estate planning or administering an estate, one area that deserves special attention is beneficiary designations. 

Common examples of beneficiary designations are: a life insurance policy set up to pay out to a spouse at the death of the insured, an Individual Retirement Account (“IRA”) or other investment or retirement account established to pass to the children of the account holder at death, and a bank account designed to be payable on the death of the owner (“POD”) to a named trustee of a pre-established trust.  Beneficiary designations generally affect personal property – i.e. not real property / real estate.

The main thing to understand about beneficiary designations is that they pass property independently of the terms of any established will or trust.  For example, a bank account with a POD designation will pass to whoever is named on the signature card at the death of the owner – not according to the will of the owner.  

Future posts will look more in depth at related issues.
 

If our office may be of assistance to you in these areas, do not hesitate to contact us at (580) 338-6503 or at coryhicks@fieldandhicks.com or using any of our contact information in the profile.  You can also visit www.fieldandhicks.com for more information. 

This blog contains general information and the opinions of the author - not legal advice; you should seek the advice of competent counsel (attorney/lawyer) when considering any legal issues.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Top Title Defects – Cured - December 9, 2013 - Follow Up Post 3

As mentioned previously in my first and second follow up posts on this topic, at the recent National Business Institute seminar in Oklahoma City on “Top Title Defects – Cured”, there was a lot of good group interaction both in and out of the formal sessions.  This post will look in more depth at a few of the specific questions and issues discussed during the day.

One question from the audience was whether Personal Representative’s / Administrator’s deeds would be covered by the Simplification of Land Titles Act and the related Chapter 29 of the Title Examination Standards Handbook (TES) if they were done under Consents and Waivers under Okla. Stat. tit. 58 §§ 239-240 rather than under the sale confirmation process outlined by statute.  There is some ambiguity here, which could be solved clearly by a slight tweak to the TES or statues.  However, my opinion is that they are.  The language of TES 29.2(B) reads in part, “. . . personal representative’s conveyance approved or confirmed by the court . . .” (emphasis added).  In the Consent and Waiver process, the Personal Representative / Administrator obtains a Consent and Waiver from each heir, devisee, and legatee and then applies to the Court for an order.  The Court then grants an order authorizing a future transfer without additional permission or confirmation from the Court.  This is an “approval” from the Court – even if that exact language is not used in the statute.  An approval from the Court in advance under the consent and waiver process would fall under the “approved” side in the same way a confirmation of an estate sale falls under the “confirmed” side of the “approved or confirmed” language of TES 29.2(B).  There are some other general arguments that would bolster this as well.  Others may disagree, and I would welcome comments and thoughts either way.

Another question from the audience involved the possible blurring of a bright line rule regarding Attorneys- In-Fact.  In TES 6.7, specifically (A)(3), title examiners are authorized to accept an instrument executed by an Attorney-In-Fact, even if there is no Power of Attorney filed in the land records appointing the purported Attorney-in-Fact – as long as the instrument has been of record at least five years.  In the question, there was an instrument executed by an Attorney-in-Fact which had been recorded more than five years.  So far, so good.  The twist in the question comes in the fact that there had been an instrument filed after the five years, but before examination, in which the principal / grantor stated that the Attorney-in-Fact was never authorized to act on their behalf.  This is a tough call as well.  Which way a title examiner leans will depend on a couple of key issues.  Some examiners would lean toward a hard line reading of TES 6.7 and accept the prior instrument after it had been of record five years.    The logic here would likely focus on the fact that the principal / grantor should have noticed the problem and raised the issue long before the 5+ years.  Some examiners might not accept the instrument.  The logic here would likely focus on TES 1.1 and the overall standard requiring the title to be free from “apparent defects, grave doubts and litigious uncertainty.”  In their mind, even if the 5 year rule is technically right, you could be leading your client into a lawsuit or dispute at the very least, and a bad title at worst; therefore, the issue ought to be cleared up before the title is free from litigious uncertainty.

In addition to specific questions, a number of important topics were discussed more generally.  One area that generated a lot of discussion (and some splits of opinion) in my presentation on Estate, Trust, and Power of Attorney Issues, was the recent changes to the summary probate statues by the Oklahoma Legislature.  I will be writing more about that in future blogs and elsewhere.  (Let me just say in sum that, in my opinion, the new changes are not helpful and in fact create real issues for attorneys and judges – and of course the underlying clients.)  Another interesting area was the discussion of the use of Powers of Attorney and gifts.   

Thanks again to NBI and all the presenters and attendees for making the event interesting and helpful.
 

If our office may be of assistance to you in these areas, do not hesitate to contact us at (580) 338-6503 or at coryhicks@fieldandhicks.com or using any of our contact information in the profile.  You can also visit www.fieldandhicks.com for more information. 

This blog contains general information and the opinions of the author - not legal advice; you should seek the advice of competent counsel (attorney/lawyer) when considering any legal issues.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Top Title Defects – Cured - December 9, 2013 - Follow Up Post 2

As discussed in my last post, I was one of the presenters at a recent National Business Institute seminar on “Top Title Defects – Cured” in Oklahoma City.  My presentation was on: Estate, Trust, and Power of Attorney Issues.  One of the things I enjoyed most about this event was learning from the other presenters, and as promised in my prior post, I want to give a little bit more information about the other presenters and their topics.   

James W. Carlton covered two sections: the first on dealing with breaks in the chain of title and the second on issues with judgments and liens.  David M. Dryer also gave two presentations: the first on legal descriptions and the second on foreclosure issues.  I enjoyed working with Dale L. Astle again this year, and his presentation covered easements, access issues, restrictive covenants, setback issues, and encroachments.  All of the presentations were well done.

There was also a question & answer period at the end.  At times when the questions were slow, I threw out a few of my own!  So thanks to everyone there for the good discussion throughout the event.  In a future blog post, I intend to address in more depth a few of the questions and issues raised during the day.
 

If our office may be of assistance to you in these areas, do not hesitate to contact us at (580) 338-6503 or at coryhicks@fieldandhicks.com or using any of our contact information in the profile.  You can also visit www.fieldandhicks.com for more information. 

This blog contains general information and the opinions of the author - not legal advice; you should seek the advice of competent counsel (attorney/lawyer) when considering any legal issues.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Top Title Defects – Cured - December 9, 2013 - Follow Up Post 1

As discussed in a prior post, I was one of the presenters at a recent National Business Institute seminar on “Top Title Defects – Cured” in Oklahoma City.  My presentation was on: Estate, Trust, and Power of Attorney Issues.  One of the best (and most difficult) parts about giving presentations is the refreshing and learning you have to do in preparation.  I believe the presentation at least offered some good overview material to beginning and intermediate examiners and some update information on recent law and title standard changes for experienced examiners.

Perhaps my favorite thing about this particular CLE was the quality group interaction both in and out of the formal sessions.  I personally enjoyed meeting several of the presenters and attendees and discussing various title and practice issues.  Thank you to everyone who participated.  But beware – I will be calling you with my hard title questions in 2014 and beyond!

Thank you to NBI for putting on the event and allowing me to speak again.  I look forward to working with your organization again in the future. 

A future post will go into more depth about some of the topics discussed at the CLE by other presenters.  I will also do a future post about some of the best questions and issues of the day. 
 

If our office may be of assistance to you in these areas, do not hesitate to contact us at (580) 338-6503 or at coryhicks@fieldandhicks.com or using any of our contact information in the profile.  You can also visit www.fieldandhicks.com for more information. 

This blog contains general information and the opinions of the author - not legal advice; you should seek the advice of competent counsel (attorney/lawyer) when considering any legal issues.