Estate Planning: Wills & Trusts
Every adult needs an estate plan.
Among other things, your estate plan gives directions on how to distribute your property after you have passed away.
Your estate plan should also provide for the possibility that you may someday become incapacitated; you will need power of attorney for both financial transactions and end-of-life medical decisions.
Did you know everyone already has an estate plan? If you don’t make a will, the State of Oregon has made one for you. In a legal process called Intestate Succession, the State directs how your property is to be distributed - basically to your next of kin according to their blood relationship. If you don’t give someone power of attorney for financial matters and the need arises, the state courts can appoint a conservator – at your expense. If you don’t sign an advance directive for health care with end-of-life medical decisions, the state courts can appoint a guardian – also at your expense. It goes without saying that the State might not handle everything exactly the way you would like; so it is important that you have a proper estate plan put in place.
A comprehensive estate plan includes, at a minimum, a financial power of attorney, an advance directive for end-of-life medical decisions, and a will. These comprise your basic legal survival kit. You may choose to upgrade your will to a living trust. All these documents will have a profound effect on your life and on the lives of your loved ones. A mistake can have far-reaching negative effects on your family. For example, do-it-yourself documents may not be legally enforceable, or your intentions may not be correctly understood—to put it simply, if you don’t plan properly, you may not get what you want.
We recommend consulting with an experienced Estate Planning attorney before getting started. An experienced attorney can help you sort through the legal and personal information you need in order to put together a plan that works for you.