Overview of Trusts and Trust Documentation in Oklahoma

A trust is an effective legal strategy for preserving wealth and assets, allows family and heirs to avoid probate court for the assets held by the trust, provides for special needs family members, and helps with asset protection from creditors and claims.

What is a trust?

A trust is a type of legal entity that is separate and distinct from the individuals who create the trust. A trust is a unique type of entity because assets owned by the trust can avoid probate. The legal structure of a trust is that the record ownership of the assets owned by the trust are controlled by a named trustee, while the beneficial ownership or ability to use the assets are intended for a named beneficiary or beneficiaries.

What are the types of trust accepted in Oklahoma?

There are many types trusts embraced by Oklahoma law. Most trusts are used to accomplish multiple purposes, despite the name used by the settlor or maker. Common trust types include:

  • Revocable trusts (revocable living trusts) – can be revised or revoked until the death of the settlor/maker
  • Irrevocable trusts – cannot typically be revised or revoked once created
  • Testamentary trusts – created through a last will and testament, or will
  • Special needs trusts (supplemental needs trusts) – designed to protect a special needs beneficiary’s eligibility for means-tested public benefits while providing additional resources
  • Land trusts – a great form of asset protection, a land trust often uses an unrelated party as trustee to truly separate the beneficiary from ownership of the property
  • Charitable remainder trusts – often a clause in generous family trusts, a charitable remainder clause can give valuable assets to charitable causes that are meaningful to the settlor/maker

How does a trust fit into an estate plan? Do I need any other documents?

A trust is an extremely helpful entity/structure on it’s own, but cannot solve all estate planning needs by itself. Typically, a well-structured estate plan will include a last will and testament, health care advance directive (living will), health care power of attorney, and trust at a minimum. See our article on what should be included in an estate plan for more information.

Are the terms of a trust private? Will they ever be made public?

A trust declaration, or the primary trust document which outlines the terms and details of the trust, are private documents in Oklahoma and do not typically have to be filed publicly before the instrument is valid and enforceable. However, there are a few limited instances where the trust declaration may be disclosed outside of the trustee and beneficiary relationship. This could include the bank or financial institution used by the trust, for general banking or loan purposes, or the court/judge handling a dispute concerning the trust language or parties.

In the event of a court action involving private trust terms, the parties may use an agreed protective order which keeps the trust declaration and terms sealed from the typical public disclosure within a court record.

How long does it take to create a trust?

Most trusts take a minimum of a few business days of planning and drafting to create, if not more, depending on the type of trust, goals of the trust, and the issues involved.

How much does it cost to create a trust?

Unfortunately, the time and cost to create a trust is highly variable, depending on the issues involved in the planning, drafting, creation, execution, and funding of the trust. The minimum cost for a well-drafted custom trust is typically a few thousand dollars.

Who manages a trust?

A trustee is the legal administrator of a trust entity. The trustee holds legal title to the trust’s assets, while the beneficiary gets to benefit from the trust’s ownership and management of those assets without having to manage them. See our article on picking a trustee for help deciding who might qualify to manage your trust.

Oklahoma Trust and Estate Planning Attorneys

A trusted and experienced trust and estate planning attorney can help you create a well-designed and flexible plan. Contact Avenue Legal Group to begin the estate planning process, discuss the creation of a trust, explore the need to update or amend a trust, or for help administering or managing an existing trust.



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