Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Administration
We can assist you in the following areas (and more):
Estate Planning Overview
A person’s entire life is spent developing, accumulating and hopefully, enjoying, the fruits of one’s labors, to benefit themselves and their families. Every person should spend some time planning for the future. Estate planning can address some of the following questions:
- Your minor children: Who should take care of your children if you die unexpectedly?
- Your assets: How should your assets be distributed after your death? Is yours a blended family?
- Taxes. Can inheritance taxes be avoided or at least lessened?
- End of life decisions. Do you have in place the documents necessary to make sure that your wishes are followed when the end of life is nearing?
- Documents. Will Oregon’s default laws govern the disposition of your assets or do you have in place your own plan? Do the documents that you currently have match the reality of your current situation and your current desires?
- Will or Trust. Should you have a Will or a Trust?
- Special Needs Trust. Do you need to provide for family members with disabilities who receive public benefits (or who may receive them in the future)?
Probate is the process of gathering estate assets, paying just debts and taxes of the estate and distributing the estate of the decedent as directed by the Will of the decedent. During the estate’s administration, the Court will appoint a Personal Representative (sometimes called an executor) to oversee and manage the estate, satisfy claims and, ultimately, distribute the estate in accordance with the Will provisions.
Small Estates Act
Smaller estates, as long as they are not controversial or active, can be processed in Oregon by way of a simpler probate process under the Small Estates Act. Estates containing less than $200,000.00 in real property and $75,000.00 in all other property are candidates for this process.
While many of the same responsibilities exist for a Trustee in the administration of a deceased individual’s estate, the process can be conducted less formally and without the involvement of the Courts, if a well-maintained and fully-funded Trust is involved.
- 1. Durable general powers of attorney. A person (the Principal) can, in writing, delegate many, if not all, of their legal powers regarding property to another person (the Agent) through the use of powers of attorney, which can be either general or limited in some way. The specific language used in the document can be critical to achieving the document’s acceptance by third parties, which is not automatic. The Principal still retains all power over their own assets. However, if the Principal become incapacitated, their named Agent can step in to manage their assets for the Principal’s benefit. This can avoid the need of establishing a conservatorship, which is a more costly process.
- Advance Directive. It can be a very trying and traumatic time when one is faced with the end of life. To articulate and ensure that one’s personal wishes are known and carried out, many clients use an Advance Directive, which names who you wish to make decisions regarding your care in the event you are not competent to do so, as well as to designate what types of end of life care you wish to have.
See our Guardianships and Conservatorships sections for more information on the legal aspects of a family member or friend stepping in to make decisions for a person with diminished capacity.
Useful forms to download and complete before your initial appointment: