Oregon Estate Planning is a very broad concept. It involves conventional forms of estate planning such as the drafting of a will or trust. In addition, it can involve things such as advance directives for healthcare and life insurance policies.
What is a will?
A will is a relatively simple document that expresses your wishes for the disposition of your property, the payment of your debts, the person who should handle your estate and the person who should be the guardian of you minor children upon your death. There are specific requirements under Oregon law for a will be valid. Once drafted, a will can be modified, revoked, or replaced by a subsequent will anytime before you die.
What is a living will?
A living will (also called an Advance Directive for Health Care) is a document that you create in order to specify what types of life-sustaining medical treatment should be withheld or removed (if any) in the event you are incapacitated and are unable to make decisions regarding your medical treatment. A living will can also designate who should have the authority to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to direct your care. Living wills and Powers of Attorney are very important today, and are frequently overlooked as part of estate planning.
What is probate?
Probate is the legal process which your estate goes through after your death. This process can be fairly complicated and usually requires the assistance of attorney. The probate court determines the validity of your will, the disposition of your property, and the payment of your debts.
What are estate taxes?
Estate taxes (also know as inheritance taxes) are taxes imposed by the Federal Government and/or state governments upon the estate of an individual at the time of his or her death. Generally, these taxes are only imposed on larger estates but the laws in this area is changing both at the Federal and Oregon levels, and should be considered as part of the estate planning process. If you do have a larger estate, there are a number planning techniques which can be used to reduce your estate taxes.
Can’t I just download a generic will off the internet or pay a non-lawyer service to draft my will?
Your will needs to comply with Oregon law in order to be valid. Also keep in mind that an estate plan is more than just a will. A comprehensive estate plan would include consideration of life insurance, the continuation of your business, retirement plans, investment planning, how the title to your various assets should be held, and provisions for any of your family members with special needs.
Is estate planning with a lawyer expensive?
Not necessarily. The cost of an estate plan is dependant on its complexity. You should not avoid estate planning for fear of its cost. The peace of mind that can be achieved through proper estate planning is well worth the cost. A good lawyer will have options for you no matter what your budget.