Dec 21

Probate in Southwest Oklahoma

Just a reminder to everyone in Jackson, Harmon, Beckham, Tillman, Greer, Kiowa and other southwest Oklahoma counties, that the law offices of Brent S. Howard, attorney, offer the most affordable and time efficient probate services in the area.

Generally, if the estate only has a few items in it and the value is less than $175,000, my office will prepare all items for the probate or administration for a flat fee and can have the probate completed within seven weeks. (This is if there are no issues that arise, like siblings fighting or valuation issues.)

If the probate estate is larger, then my office will still work with your family to ensure you have an affordable probate to transition the legacy to the next generation.

If you live out of state, then call my office at 580-318-8829 or email to the link in the upper corner and discuss what options are available for you and your family with a no-cost consultation.

Dec 20

Estate Planning Word of the Day

Summary Administration – noun. A shortened process of probate; either with a last will and testament or without.

A summary administration is a statutory relief for beneficiaries of estates that are deemed small or uncomplex by the state legislature. In Oklahoma, the amount for an estate to qualify for summary administration has recently been raised to $200,000, so any estate with a total probatable value less than this can go through the shortened proceedings. The legislature also says the uncomplex proceedings that qualify for summary administration are those where the Decedent was a resident of another state at his time of death and estates of Decedents who have been deceased more than 5 years.

The summary administration process still requires a court case to be opened in the county with jurisdiction, but instead of a typical six to ten month process with three separate hearings, the summary administration allows the estate to be closed within 45 days and only requires one hearing.

If you have a loved one that has passed away and think that summary administration may be needed to transfer the Estate, then please call my office at 580-318-8829 for a consultation. I serve all southwest Oklahoma counties and will travel to Altus, Mangum, Hobart, Sayre, Frederick, Lawton, Duncan, Anadarko, Apache, Weatherford, Clinton, and other smaller towns in the area.

Dec 19

Estate Planning Word of the Day

Ancillary Probate – noun The probate process in a jurisdiction other than the jurisdiction where the Decedent was a resident at his time of death.

An ancillary probate will normally have to be completed if a person dies with property that is subject only to another court’s jurisdiction. This most commonly occurs in the case of real property. For example, if a person buys a house in Oklahoma, then moves to Georgia, but retains the home as either a vacation or rental property, then if he dies while still owning it only in his name (not jointly with another or through a trust or LLC), then a probate will have to be initiated in Georgia and Oklahoma. Georgia courts do not have authority to transfer property solely within Oklahoma.

If you have moved and still own property in another jurisdiction, then call my office for a free 15 phone consultation on steps that can be taken to save your family from the expense and delay associated with multiple probates.


Dec 19

Three Year-End Tax Tips from IRS

Although the year is almost over, you still have time to take steps that can lower your 2013 taxes. Now is a good time to prepare for the upcoming tax filing season. Taking these steps can help you save time and tax dollars. They can also help you save for retirement. Here are three year-end tips from the IRS for you to consider:

1. Start a filing system.  If you don’t have a filing system for your tax records, you should start one. It can be as simple as saving receipts in a shoebox, or more complex like creating folders or spreadsheets. It’s always a good idea to save tax-related receipts and records. Keeping good records now will save time and help you file a complete and accurate tax return next year.

2. Make Charitable Contributions.  If you plan to give to charity, consider donating before the year ends. That way you can claim your contribution as an itemized deduction for 2013. This includes donations you charge to a credit card by Dec. 31, even if you don’t pay the bill until 2014. A gift by check also counts for 2013 as long as you mail it in December. Remember that you must give to a qualified charity to claim a tax deduction. Use the IRS Select Check tool at to see if an organization is qualified.

Make sure to save your receipts. You must have a written record for all donations of money in order to claim a deduction. Special rules apply to several types of property, including clothing or household items, cars and boats. For more about these rules see Publication 526, Charitable Contributions.

If you are age 70½ or over, the qualified charitable distribution allows you to make tax-free transfers from your IRAs to charity. You can give up to $100,000 per year from your IRA to an eligible charity, and exclude the amount from gross income. You can use the excluded amount to satisfy any required minimum distributions that you must otherwise receive from your IRAs in 2013. This benefit is available even if you do not itemize deductions. This special provision is set to expire at the end of 2013. See Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), for more information.

3. Contribute to Retirement Accounts.  You need to contribute to your 401(k) or similar retirement plan by Dec. 31 to count for 2013. On the other hand, you have until April 15, 2014, to set up a new IRA or add money to an existing IRA and still have it count for 2013.

The Saver’s Credit, also known as the Retirement Savings Contribution Credit, helps low- and moderate-income workers in two ways. It helps people save for retirement and earn a special tax credit. Eligible workers who contribute to IRAs, 401(k)s or similar workplace retirement plans can get a tax credit on their federal tax return. The maximum credit is up to $1,000, $2,000 for married couples. Other deductions and credits may reduce or eliminate the amount you can claim.

Dec 11

Estate Planning Word of the Day

Probate noun The legal process of administering an Estate of a deceased person. The probate estate has three main functions: 1. Ensuring all assets are accounted for; 2. Payment of final expenses and debts of the decedent; 3. Distributing the remaining property to the heirs/beneficiaries of the Estate.

Probate is not necessarily a hard process, but it is often time consuming and is open to the public. These are the two most common reasons that individuals use a trust, payable on death designation, or joint tenancy ownership to avoid a probate.

The law offices of Brent S. Howard perform probate procedures for all of southwestern Oklahoma, including the towns of Altus, Hobart, Hollis, Sayre, Frederick, Mangum and Snyder. If you have had a loved one pass away, then please call my office to set up a complimentary consultation to discuss any actions that are needed for their estate.