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Hard topics: When Mom or Dad can no longer live alone

It's likely one of the most heart-wrenching decision adult children will ever have to make — stepping in when an elderly parent is no longer safe while living alone. The situation can be exacerbated if the elderly person refuses to entertain the idea of moving to an assisted living center or other supervised accommodations. Simply bringing up the topic ensures eruptions of distress, anger and agitation will ensue.

Do you need to include your pet in your estate plan?

Pets are a strange gray area when it comes to estate planning. While you may not think of your dog as property, thinking of him as part of the family, he is legally another piece of property that you own. It means that you may want to include the pet as a part of your estate plan to ensure that your wishes are followed and that someone else is able to care for the pet if you pass away first.

When should I seek conservatorship over a family member?

Most Oklahoma residents pride themselves on being self-sufficient adults who don't require anyone's assistance to manage their lives. However, sickness, injury and age can take their toll, and eventually we all may be in need of a helping hand -- someone to guide us, help us and make decisions on our behalf.

You need specialized help for American Indian wills

If you are an American Indian, then one thing you need to be informed about is how your property would be distributed if you did not have a will at the time of your death. The American Indian Probate Reform Act has been enacted and has changed the way your ownership rights in trust or restricted land works unless it's in the State of Alaska. The Act changes how your property is distributed if you don't have a will, which makes having one even more important than in the past.

Do retirement and estate planning go hand-in-hand?

One of the biggest concerns many individuals have about getting older is mental decline brought on by conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia. In addition to long-term care costs, the lack of mental capacity that results from such conditions often means that an individual may no longer be able to make his or her own decisions about finances, medical decisions or estate planning. It's no surprise that a spokesperson at the Alzheimer’s Association characterizes the condition as the public health crisis of our time.

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