Estate Planning Attorney in Portland, Oregon
Many people think that estate planning is only for the extremely wealthy, but estate planning actually benefits everyone who wants to plan ahead on how they want their estate to be handled in their retirement years or when they die.
In addition to determining where your properties should go, estate planning can also be a great tool to include decisions about your family, especially your young children and their properties, your taxes, health care directives, and what happens to your body after death.
What is an Estate Plan?
An estate plan is a set of legal documents that provide specific instructions regarding your care and the management of your assets in case you become incapacitated and what happens to your estate when you die. A good estate plan will reflect your personal wishes, provide financial benefits, and protect your loved ones. A good estate planning lawyer can help you create an estate plan that will reflect your wishes and take care of your family.
There are different estate planning tools to choose from when planning your estate. Wills are the most popular and most common estate planning tool because they tend to be less complicated and less expensive. A living trust is another common tool that you can use to name the beneficiaries of your estate. One benefit of choosing a living trust is that your property doesn’t have to go through court probate. However, living trusts are usually more expensive and more complicated than wills.
Our Portland estate planning lawyers at Michael D. O’Brien & Associates can provide you with the best estate planning tools available to help you plan your estate. Call our experienced Portland estate planning lawyer at 503-852-9047 to get started today!
What is a Will?
A will is a fairly simple document that states what should happen to your estate once you die. A will can also be used to:
- name the guardians of your minor children
- Leave property to young children
- name an executor of your will
- instruct how to pay your taxes.
Since minor children cannot legally own property, when leaving property to your children, it must be managed by an adult at least until they reach the age of 18. Alternatively, you can also use your will to set up a testamentary trust for your children or name a custodian under the Uniform Transfer to Minors Act. If you don’t assign an adult to manage the property you’ve left behind for a minor in your will, then the court will assign someone to do it after your death.
After your death, the executor of your will must pay any debt or taxes and distribute your asset based on the terms in your will. This process is called “probate,” where the court will ensure that the will is valid and the estate will go to the proper heirs.
This highly structured and court-supervised process is usually long and expensive. To find out if a will is right for you, consult a Portland estate attorney to help you decide the best estate planning tool for your needs.
As stated above, wills are subject to probate, the judicial process where a will is examined in a court of law to see if it is the legitimate last testament of the deceased individual. After hearing the testimony from the estate’s representative, the court will decide whether the will is valid or not. The court will also estimate the value of your properties and estate.
During probate, the executor of your will also has to pay off any taxes and debts you owed through your estate’s assets. Creditors are also notified to file any claims for your estate for money owed to them. If there are any remaining funds, the claims will be paid according to the order dictated by state laws.
After the inventory of your estate, and the value of your estate is already calculated, and taxes and debts are paid back, your will’s executor will distribute the remaining assets in your estate to your heirs and beneficiaries.
Similar to a will, a living trust is a legal document that you can use to name the beneficiaries of your estate and to direct how you want your assets to be distributed. However, different from a will, a living trust has an appointed trustee who will manage the distribution of the trust property after your death (a will has an executor who works with the probate court).
To transfer property through a living trust, the property must be transferred into the trust. Usually, this is as easy as making a list of all your assets that you want to transfer and attach it to the trust document. But for items with title documents such as real estate, it must be retitled so that the trust will be the new owner of the property.
A living trust won’t go through the probate process, which can be a great deal if you want to avoid probate. Since all property passing through a living trust doesn’t have to go through probate, it is immediately given to the beneficiaries of the estate after the death of the grantor, without incurring any fees or guidance from the court.
However, not everyone has to avoid probate. If you don’t have much property, or if you have acquired many debts, then creating a living trust may not be necessary.
A living trust is also generally more expensive and more complicated to arrange and maintain. With a living trust, you can’t name an executor or assign guardians for your minor children. So if you plan to do those things, it is best to set up a will as well. In situations where you’re not sure what type of estate plan is best for you and your family, it is best to consult an experienced Portland estate planning attorney.
Call Our Portland Estate Planning Attorney Today!
Planning for your future is important especially if you have a family to protect. At Michael D. O’Brien & Associates, we have a legal team of experts in estate planning who can help you draft your wills and trusts, avoid probate, and administer your estate.