Estate Planning Overview
A good estate plan is important for everyone, even if you do not have much money. An estate plan typically includes:
A Will to designate who will receive your assets, who will handle your financial matters after your death, what will happen with your pets, and perhaps most important, who will raise your minor children. The Will also can waive the requirement that the Personal Representative post a bond, which can save significant money in administering your estate. (Having a Will, however, does not avoid probate.)
A Power of Attorney to empower someone you trust to help with your finances and make other decisions for you during your lifetime if you cannot handle these responsibilities yourself.
An Advance Directive for Healthcare Decisions, sometimes called a Living Will, to designate a representative to make medical decisions when you cannot speak for yourself and/or to outline what type of care you want during certain end-of-life situations.
Burial Instructions or instructions for Disposition of Remains can provide direction if you do not trust your next of kin to carry out your wishes.
Beneficiary Designations on bank accounts, life insurance and retirement benefits, etc. may help completely avoid probate, depending on your assets.
A Trust is another tool used in some estate plans. When our estate-planning clients ask about setting up a trust, usually they are talking about creating a revocable or irrevocable living trust. Creating a living trust involves setting up a legal entity (the trust) that will own your assets and designating someone (a trustee) to manage those assets during your lifetime and after you have passed away. While you are capable, you can serve as your own trustee. A key benefit of having a Trust is that it can help you avoid probate.
Estate Planning FAQs
If correctly completed and properly witnessed, a will form, whether downloaded online or purchased in paper form, can be legally valid. Unfortunately, problems with these online wills usually are not discovered until someone had died—and then it’s too late to correct mistakes. Too often, we see online wills or form wills where the deceased wrote inconsistent instructions or did not think of all the “what ifs” that an attorney usually reviews.
Trusts became popular to help minimize federal estate taxes. Today, the federal estate tax threshold is so high (more than $11 million in 2020) that few families have to concern themselves with this so-called “death tax.” Some people find trusts appealing as a way to avoid the cost and delay of probate.
- Married couples with more than $1 million in assets
- If you own real estate or mineral or gas rights owned outside the state of Oregon
- If you have a blended family
- If you have a family-owned business or family-managed rental property
- If you have minor children a Trust can help provide enhanced control over when and how funds can be accessed
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Contact us for an appointment to discuss a Will or Trust that will best fit your desires and needs before you are gone. If you have lost someone close to you, ask us questions about the correct way to handle their property. Don’t leave it up to the state of Oregon on how you want your property or real estate to be handled.
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