There is an old expression, that nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. It is uncomfortable to contemplate of one’s own death, but it is even more difficult on your heirs if you have not done any estate planning.

Each person’s will is a testimony of the values held by that individual. It speaks of love and thoughtfulness as well as of careful planning. If there is no will, the state must fill the void with a formula that may not provide for your loved ones as you wish, and may also convey far less than the loving legacy that you want to leave behind. Also, without a will, Oregon presumes you wanted 25% of your estate to go to the State. A will allows you to decide who will manage your money and other property after you die, and how it will be distributed. It lets your wishes be heard regarding the care of minor and disabled children. It often prevents disputes among your relatives. In a large estate, a will can also reduce the amount of taxes that may be due at your death.

One of the questions we are frequently asked is the difference in legal fees for a will versus a trust. While wills are relatively inexpensive to prepare, the can be costly to probate. Our fee for a simple will is $800.00. However, fees of $7,500 to $10,000 are not unusual to probate a will.

A trust costs more to set up, but there is no probate involved. Trusts formation generally runs between $2,500 and $3,500 exclusive of fees such as deeds. But there is no probate cost.

Whom may I choose to inherit my property if I write a will?

The only rule is that if you are married, your spouse has a right to claim part of your estate. Generally, unless you entered into an agreement in which you validly waived your right to claim a share of your spouse’s estate, spouses cannot disinherit each other. You are not required, however, to leave anything to your children or other family members. You may instead choose a friend or charity to inherit your property. If you plan to disinherit a family member it is very important that you consult with an attorney experienced in estate planning to make sure that your plan will be followed.

Is a will expensive?

No, a simple will is not expensive. However, the cost of any will depends on how much work your lawyer does for you. As a will becomes more complicated, the cost rises. Ask your lawyer for an estimate of the cost. In general, the trouble and expense of not having a will far outweigh the cost of the will.

Do I need a will if I don't have much money?

The amount of property you own does not determine whether you need a will. Your personal and financial circumstances determine when and how a will should be drafted. For example, it is important for new parents to have a will to provide for their children even if they own little personal or real property.

What are estate and inheritance taxes?

Estate taxes are the taxes that need to be paid out of your estate after you die. These are based on the total amount of assets that you own at the time of your death. There are federal estate taxes as well as taxes due to Oregon. These amounts change frequently as Congress and our state legislature determine the amounts. An estate planning lawyer may be able to draft a will, trust or other document, as well as give you advice, to help reduce the amount of taxes your estate may owe upon your death.

Nobody wants to think about their death. Careful planning, including thoughtful preparation of a will that fully expresses your wishes, can provide for the people and the causes to which your life is devoted. Don’t leave matters to chance and fail to draw a will. If you do not prepare a will, a greater than necessary amount of your assets may go to state and federal governments in taxes. And your remaining assets may go to individuals other than those loved ones whom you would prefer to benefit.

Asset Protection

Are you doing what you need to protect your financial resources?

We draft Trusts, Power of Attorney, Health Care Directives, Deeds, Titles, Guardianship documents and other necessary estate planning documents

Estate Planning: Wills and Trusts

There is an old expression, that nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. It is uncomfortable to contemplate of one’s own death, but it is even more difficult on your heirs if you have not done any estate planning. Each person’s will is a testimony of the values held by that individual. It speaks of love and thoughtfulness as well as of careful planning. If there is no will, the state must fill the void with a formula that may not provide for your loved ones as you wish, and may also convey far less than the loving legacy that you want to leave behind. Also, without a will, Oregon presumes you wanted 25% of your estate to go to the State.  Nobody wants to think about their careful planning, including thoughtful preparation of a will that fully expresses your wishes, can provide for the people and the causes to which your life is devoted. Don’t leave matters to chance and fail to draw a will. If you do not prepare a will, a greater than necessary amount of your assets may go to state and federal governments in taxes. And your remaining assets may go to individuals other than those loved ones whom you would prefer to benefit.

Conservatorship

A conservatorship is a court proceeding that grants one (or more) person(s) the authority to make financial decisions for another because of a mental or physical incapacity that renders a person unable to make informed and sound decisions. “Financially incapable” is defined in the Oregon Statutes as “a condition in which a person is unable to manage financial resources of the person effectively for reasons including, but not limited to, mental illness, mental deficiency, physical illness or disability, chronic use of drugs of controlled substances, chronic intoxication, confinement, detention by a foreign power or disappearance. ‘Manage financial resources’ means those actions necessary to obtain, administer and dispose of real and personal property, intangible property, business property, benefits and income.” The individual remains free to make personal, non-financial decisions, and the conservator makes the financial decisions. A conservator may not be necessary if an individual with an appointed guardian is receiving only a monthly Social Security and/or Supplemental Security Income benefit and has money and property totaling less than $10,000. In some cases, if a person has large financial resources, a conservator may be appointed when someone is seeking guardianship of that person.