If you have been putting off getting a Will and setting up your estate plan, we can help and our services can actually end up saving you money. Without a Will, the court will likely require your personal representative to purchase a bond, which would actually cost more than our fees to prepare all your estate documents. We charge a flat fee for the preparation of most estate planning documents and are willing to travel to you if you have mobility issues.
Estate planning is your set of written instructions on what you want to have happen if you were to die or become incapacitated. An estate plan gives you control over these matters and will usually end up saving your loved ones a great deal of time and expense if done correctly. Without an estate plan, Oregon laws on intestate succession will determine what happens if you were to pass away.
An estate plan usually begins with a Will. Your Will contains provisions on where you want your assets to go upon your death. A Will also nominates your personal representative (also known as executor) who will be in charge of handling your estate. Your Will can also nominate guardians for minor children and set up trusts for them with a trustor who will distribute money or assets to them in a manner you have designated. A Will often times identifies specific gifts or property you would like to give to loved ones.
A Will is only one of the important estate planning tools that are available. In addition to a Will, it is usually recommended that a person have a Durable Power of Attorney. A Durable Power of Attorney is a document that authorizes another person to make financial decisions for you in case you become incapacitated. Without a Durable Power of Attorney, in the event you were to become unable to manage your affairs, someone would have to Petition the court to be appointed as your conservator. The preparation of a Durable Power of Attorney costs a fraction of what it would cost to petition and obtain a conservatorship through the court as it is an expensive and drawn out process.
An Advanced Directive is another estate planning tool that is similar to Durable Power of Attorney but it allows someone to make medical, not financial, decisions for you in case you become unable to make those decisions yourself due to some sort of incapacity or unconsciousness. The Advanced Directive contains your set of instructions on end of life decisions like tube feeding and life support. Without an advanced directive, if you were unable to make health decisions someone would have to Petition the court to be appointed as your guardian. Until the court officially approves the guardianship, health care providers would be obligated to maintain the status quo, which could be expensive.
The final tool regularly utilized in estate planning is a Disposition of Remains. The document is your instructions to your loved ones, and the funeral home, as to what you would like to have happen to your body after you die.
A Revocable Living Trust is another estate planning tool which if done properly will avoid the court’s probate process. A Revocable Living is a written agreement that appoints a trustee (usually you) to manage and administer the property of the grantor (you). A Revocable Living Trust has many advantages as it avoids probate, is more private since it is not filed with the court and can have provisions dealing your incapacity so you may avoid conservatorships and adult guardianships. However, a Revocable Living Trust also has some disadvantages as they are more costly to prepare, can be more costly and inconvenient to maintain and if not funded properly will not avoid probate. This is a common occurrence and that is why almost all estate planning attorneys recommend an additional “pour over” Will that directs the probate court to look to your trust instructions when distributing assets that did not make it into the trust.