Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Trust & Estate legislative developments in Oklahoma

On April 21, 2015, Gov. Fallin signed SB774, which allows a trust to exist in perpetuity so long as the absolute power of alienation is not suspended beyond lives in being plus 21 years.  The statutory amendment provides: “The absolute power of alienation is not suspended if there is any person in being who, alone or in combination with one or more others, has the power to sell, exchange, or otherwise convey the real or personal property.” These amendments appear to be directed toward the suggestion that the Oklahoma constitutional prohibition against perpetuities is a prohibition against suspension of the power of alienation.

On April 21, 2015, Gov. Fallin vetoed HB1149, which would have required that the Courts strictly construe in-terrorem clauses, or no-contest clauses, contained in wills.  This proposed law would have eliminated the "good faith" exception to enforcement of these clauses, and could have interfered with the equitable doctrine that equity abhors a forfeiture. 

On April 7, 2015, Gov. Fallin approved SB725, which expands the Oklahoma slayer statute to persons who have been convicted of abuse, neglect or exploitation of a vulnerable adult under 21 O.S. 843.3. 

On April 2, 2015, Gov. Fallin approved SB109, which restores the provision in Section 3 of the Uniform Durable Power of Attorney Act, allowing DPOAs to remain in effect following the appointment of a guardian or conservator.  Beginning with the 1988 adoption of the Uniform Act, DPOAs remained in effect following a guardian’s appointment, but the attorney-in-fact was accountable to the guardian.  This changed in 2010, when Section 1074 of Oklahoma’s Uniform Act was the subject of two competing amendments approved by the legislature and Governor.  One of the amendments provided that DPOAs would terminate upon appointment of a guardian or conservator.  In 2012, the legislature struck one of the amendments, and as a result, the automatic termination remained in place as Oklahoma law.  Effective on November 1, 2015, Oklahoma will return to the Uniform Act’s approach of allowing DPOAs to remain in effect.