In a previous post, I wrote about the times a person needs to have an Oklahoma Last Will and Testament. The Will is the most basic of estate planning documents. There are, however, times when need and/or personal preference dictate that the revocable trust is a better choice.

How do you know when trust would be better? Consider some of these factors:

1. Privacy is important.

As I wrote a couple of months ago, this factor is often underrated in estate planning. If a Will is probated, all records of the proceeding are publicly available and, indeed, available online for anyone to view and print at any hour of the day or night.
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If you are an employee being asked to sign an Oklahoma non-compete agreement, you should consider the four questions below before you sign:

 

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If I am an Oklahoma business with independent contractors, do I still have to respond to an income assignment for child support?

Read on to find out.

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I typically write about Oklahoma non-compete agreements in the employer-employee relationship. But what about a situation that many people find themselves in: independent contractor status.

What are the limits on a business restricting an independent contractor from competing?

Are the limits the same as in the employer-employee relationship?

Read on to find out. Continue Reading…

My worry list

February 27, 2014

I rarely share personal information on this blog.  One exception was when we adopted our son David in 2010, an occasion I found grand enough to merit mention on this blog.  Today’s post is another occasion where I am deviating from normal practice of keeping it *legal*!

My list of worries.

I have been a life-long, habitual worrier. Constantly and continually fretting and stewing about things I cannot control, particularly the “what ifs” that are not the tasks of today but the mirages of tomorrow. As you might expect, worry has promoted good health or living for me. I am fed up with living like this. God says that I do not have to live like this.

I started my “worry list” late last night. This is a list where I record any worries I have, when they come to me. The point of recording the worries is getting them out of my head and trying to do what God invites us to do in 1 Peter 5:7, to give all our worries and cares to Him, because God loves and cares about us and does not want us to worry.

My hope is that by getting the worries out of my head in real time I will facilitate the process of turning them over to God, accepting the peace that He offers and, someday, turning this “worry list” into a “faith list”, a list that demonstrates God’s faithfulness.

A life-long habit and practice is not going away in day without a miracle (which, just for the record, I would be totally fine with God!). But this is the start of the process for me. We will see how it goes.

 

The Technology Piece

For those of you who are technologically-inclined, there is tech piece to this story:  I am using Evernote, primarily on the iPhone, to record my worries.  Whenever a worry comes to my mind, I dictate it into Evernote using vJournal, an iOS app that allows for quick iOS dictation and then automatically transfers the information into Evernote and built-in voice dictation on the iPhone.

Do you know what the Oklahoma summary probate process is?

 

Definition

Summary probate is a shorter, quicker version of a full-blown probate. Rather than there being two hearings in front of the Judge, there is only one hearing, at the end of the process. To give you an idea of what to expect, below is a diagram how the Oklahoma summary probate process usually flows through the court:.

Visualized

Summary Probate

Does your estate qualify?

To qualify for summary probate (technically referred to as “summary administration”), the estate must meet one of the following criteria:

1. The value of the estate is less than or equal to $200,000.00;
2. The decedent has been deceased for more than five (5) years; or
3. The decedent resided In another jurisdiction at the time of death.

Have you funded your Oklahoma living trust?

 

You have probably heard that funding your living trust is really important.  I have written about the topic a couple of times on this blog including this post . . . Why do you need to fund your trust or lose it?

But what does “funding” really mean?? Simply put, funding means to legal transfer title to your property from yourself to your living trust.

If you do not fund your trust, you will probably lose most of value of it.  Below is diagram I created that identifies some of basic documents that are used in the trust funding process, with a little bit of explanation about each document.

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Would you like to save even more time when you use Evernote

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If you are reading this article, there is excellent chance you already use Evernote.  Most people recognize Evernote as a great tool for remembering things and indeed it is.  However, Evernote will truly help you be more organized and efficient when you start integrating it with the things you do everyday. Now that you use it, here are a few ideas to use it even more efficiently.

1.    Email directly into Evernote

What:  Every Evernote user has a specific Evernote email address.  Forward the email to your Evernote email address, to specify the destination notebook, append the subject line with the symbol “@” followed by the name of an existing notebook; to add a tag, include “#” followed by an existing tag.

Why:  It is easy way to material to Evernote from anywhere, regardless of the device you are using.  It’s great for quickly capturing information and emptying your email inbox.  Read more here.

2.    Use Evernote Web Clipper

What: Clip and save any page on the Web right from your browser and send it directly into an Evernote notebook with the appropriate tag.  According to Evernote, unlike a typical web bookmark which simply points to a website, which may change or be deleted over time, Evernote’s Web Clips create permanent snapshots of a webpage that preserve navigation, text, images and links, and are always fully searchable and available on all your devices anytime you need them.

Why: It provides a fast and super-simple way to organize research while moving a vast number of web pages.  Rather than getting lost in all those open tabs you have, you can end up with all the important items you found already in Evernote.  There is a browser add-on for all the major web browsers. However, I have found the Chrome version to be particularly useful because it allows you to mark up your clippings with notes to share with someone else or remind yourself.  You can also share interesting things you discover directly on various social media sites.

3.    Use Note Links 

What:     Note links are, not surprisingly, links to notes in Evernote.  You create note links in any desktop version of Evernote by right-clicking on note and choosing “note link”.  are simply hyperlinks created in Evernote allowing you connect notes to each other and

Why:  Note links allow you to link notes to each other and to link to notes from other applications.  You can quickly jump between related notes and open up notes from other applications such as your calendar or email program.  Read more about note links here.  And to add even more functionality, you can create a table of contents from a notebook using note links, like this.

4.     Pick up keyboard shortcuts

What:  These PC-based keyboard shortcuts allow you glide through Evernote without ever moving the mouse. A few of the shortcuts are: Ctrl-Alt-N to start a new note; Windows-A to pastes text into a new or open note; Ctrl-N for a new note; Ctrl-Shift-T: New tag and many more are found here on Evernote’s site.

Why:  If you take your hands off the keypad for even a few seconds you lose time and Evernote is really all about being more efficient.

If you like these ideas and crave more, check out the Evernote Blog and the Evernote App Center.

 

The New Law

While you were [probably] sleeping, Oklahoma law about non-compete agreements and non-solicitation agreements shifted a little bit.  The new law passed in May 2013 went into effect as of 12:00 a.m. today as Title 15 O.S. sec. 219B:

A contract or contractual provision which prohibits an employee or independent contractor of a person or business from soliciting, directly or indirectly, actively or inactively, the employees or independent contractors of that person or business to become employees or independent contractors of another person or business shall not be construed as a restraint from exercising a lawful profession, trade or business of any kind. Sections 217, 218, 219 and 219A of Title 15 of the Oklahoma Statutes shall not apply to such contracts or contractual provisions.

Regular readers of this blog know that non-compete related topics are a popular subject.

What does this mean?

Not nearly as much as you might think.  Similar to many laws that result from the political process, it is appears to be “full of sound and fury” but ends up signifying . . . very little.  This law was passed in response to a decision from the Oklahoma Supreme Court that voided out an entire employee non-solicitation clause because it also prohibited hiring people that might seek employment on their own initiative and without any solicitation or inducement by past employees. In light of this decision, some people thought that all “anti-raiding” provisions might be unenforceable under Oklahoma law.

The practical effect

An employer and an employee (or independent contractor) can agree that when an employee leaves the employer, the employee will not try to hire away the employer’s other employees.  An employer may lose one employee, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there is going to be a mass exit of other employees.

The result of this new statute is that provisions that are in many sharply-drafted employment agreements are now “officially” enforceable (assuming they comply with the statute of course).

Daniel Joshua Salinas identified one other notable item about the new law in this blog post: the law permits restrictions on non-solicitation of employees but does not appear to limit the hiring of those people.

  An example

Here is an example of what a restrictive non-solicitation clause might look like in an employment agreement:

During the term of the Employee’s employment under this Agreement and for a period of twenty-four (24) months thereafter or, if longer, a period of twenty-four (24) months following the termination of the Employee providing any services to the Company, whether such termination be by the Company or by the Employee, the Employee will not directly or indirectly (i) recruit, solicit, encourage, or induce any employee of the Company or its affiliates to terminate such employment (ii) approach any such person for any foregoing purposes, (iii) otherwise disrupt any such employee’s relationship with the Company or its affiliates.

By the way, if you copy this language and use it in an agreement, you are doing so at your own peril and you will get no more than the value you paid for it :).

 

 

Can you explain the difference in duties required by the person who is the Personal Representative and the person who has the Power of Attorney?  

The primary difference between the Personal Representative (“PR”) and the person appointed under a power of attorney the attorney in fact (the “POA”) is that the PR is administering the estate after the person has passed away and the POA is caring for the person while they are incapacitated, but still living.  POA powers terminate upon death.

Personal Representative

  •  The PR is responsible for securing the Last Will and Testament of the decedent (if there is one) and distributing the decedent’s property according to the terms of the Will. There are usually bills to pay, a tax return to file, personal belongings to gather and other items that need to be addressed. In some cases, a probate proceeding may be necessary.  The PR would be responsible for getting this proceeding filed and completed (with the assistance of an attorney).

Attorney in Fact

  •  The POA receives power to act on behalf of the incapacitated person when the person is determined to be incapacitated under the terms of the power of attorney document.  Typically, this is when a determination is made by at least one medical professional that person can no longer care for themselves.
  • The POA is charged with taking care of the incapacitated person’s financial needs, health and welfare needs and other day-to-day to issues.  For example, a POA may pay bills, communicate with the doctors and make decisions about the incapacitated person is going to be cared for.
  •  Legally, it probably makes no difference whether it is the same person who is POA and PR.  However, practically, many times the other spouse is the person chosen to be both the POA and then the PR.  A person who has acted as the POA and then acts as the PR has a bit of an advantage because they already have experience with the decedent’s estate.

 Is it best that whoever is appointed to act following the death of both spouses be the same person?

Whether it is best to have the same person as POA and PR for both spouses if you are both either incapacitated or pass way simultaneously depends on several things.

  • Is the person you appoint to act as POA capable of caring for two incapacitated people at the same time?
  • Will or could that person also have duties to care for minor children as well as the new guardian? Again, if the same person is PR and there is a simultaneous death of both spouses, the person must be capable of administering both estates.  It can be done, it is simply a question of the competency of the person who is appointed.
  • Practically, where there is one person who both husband and wife are comfortable with, that person is often appointed successor PR of both estates.

 

A little over a year ago I wrote about how Oklahoma was moving toward implementing a state-wide case management system for all of its courts. The system would usher in e-filing for Oklahoma state courts, something that has been in use in the federal courts for over 10 years. In that post, I included the rules that the Oklahoma Supreme Court put out to control the process.  Purportedly, there is a pilot program going on now in some counties testing out the new system.

Now, there is additional detail provided by the Supreme Court of Oklahoma’s Administrative Office of Courts about how the process will actually work.  Take a look at the slide presentation below:

 

Download (PDF, 1.13MB)