It is not surprising that so many people postpone estate planning. The process involves technical terms and abstract concepts that are outside the day-to-day discourse of most people. It requires assembling information and thinking about an unpleasant subject. Other tasks seem to be higher short-term priorities.
With over 30 years of experience, we are able to eliminate many obstacles involved in the estate planning process. We use a variety of tools to help our clients gather information, understand issues and make decisions. By clearly explaining the benefits of estate planning, we help our clients focus on the positive, proactive aspects of estate planning. We stay in regular contact with clients who have begun work on estate plans in order to help them follow the project through to completion. We also enjoy long-term relationships with our clients, which is important because an estate plan should be updated periodically to accommodate changes in the client’s life and goals.
When you meet with your lawyer at Martin, Elliott & Snell, PC, you will learn that our philosophy is that estate planning encompasses more than the distribution of property at your demise. It also includes: Creating a comprehensive plan for health care decisions in the event of a mental or physical incapacity prior to death; Perhaps drafting a Living Trust or inter-vivos gifts (gifts made to your heirs while you are still alive) to avoid or lessen the costs of a probate or avoid inheritance taxes. It includes whatever makes the most
Probate is the court-supervised transfer of property from a deceased person (decedent) to his or her heirs and beneficiaries. If the decedent had a will, the will specifies who receives the decedent’s estate.
The decedent with a will is said to have died “testate.” If the decedent did not have a will, state law defines who inherits the estate. The decedent without a will is said to have died “intestate” and the estate ends up in probate.
And Probate is a court process. Some of the many steps are included here to illustrate how complicated the process can be and why it is important that you work with an experienced attorney should probate be necessary.
A conservator is a person appointed by the court with the authority and duty to manage the financial affairs of a person needing protection, such as a minor (under 18 years) or an adult incapacitated person and may be appointed for an adult if a judge determines that the individual lacks the capacity to manage his or her financial resources. The conservator can be an individual (family member or trusted friend), bank, trust company, or professional fiduciary. The conservator is empowered to take possession of the protected person’s assets and income, and provides for payment of the protected person’s expenses.
The conservator becomes the sole financial decision-maker for the protected person. The protected person loses all control of his or her property and assets, except for a few limited powers in certain situations.
We have over 30 years of experience in establishing, defending and administering guardianships and conservatorships. If you have questions or concerns about conservatorship issues, please don’t hesitate to contact the one of our conservatorship attorneys.
You have worked hard and planned carefully to attain the standard of living that you enjoy. You want to make certain that the assets you have accumulated, including investments, real estate, and business interests, pass to your loves ones in an orderly way with minimum tax costs. Through the creation of a will, it is possible for you to protect your estate and take the steps necessary to see that your assets and possessions are distributed according to your wishes in the event of your death.
Contact us today to begin the process of establishing your last will and testament. A lawyer at our office can walk you through the process to ensure the legality of your will, living will, and other estate planning documents.
Though a will may be created, will contests may still be brought against the estate. These types of disputes can exacerbate the trauma that is felt amongst family members by your death. By enlisting the help of our firm, we can structure your will in a way that can help minimize the possibility of a will contest or other arguments amongst your surviving family members.
POWER OF ATTORNEY
Power of attorney, living will: How do you want your medical issues decided if you are unable to make your own decisions? A medical power of attorney and a living will can make your wishes clear. If you cannot make your own financial decisions, who do you want to have that responsibility? By making your choices now, you can have peace of mind in knowing that your care will be in the hands of someone you trust.
THE PROBATE PROCESS
Petition and Appointment of Personal Representative
The attorney identifies who can and should serve as the personal representative for the decedent’s estate. The attorney then prepares a petition to the court asking that the court appoint the personal representative (executor).
Our Probate attorneys identify who can and should serve as the personal representative, or “fiduciary;” that is, manager of moneys, assets, and businesses of the estate. The personal representative is bound to complete the following:
- Carry out the necessary tasks of the estate
- Act prudently regarding assets (for example, only invest in the most conservative investments)
- Act loyally, that is, avoid conflicts of interest
- Act impartially to all heirs, beneficiaries, creditors
- Protect estate assets
- Delegate wisely
- Provide information to heirs and beneficiaries
- Keep a paper trail of all transactions
With over 30 years of experience, our lawyers have represented hundreds of executors (personal representatives), as well as heirs, devisees, creditors and other interested family members involved in the probate process.
If you become incapacitated and are unable to mange your own personal needs and health care, decisions will be made for you by someone else. If you have not appointed a decision maker, state law provides for an Oregon Guardianship where a guardian is appointed by the court.
A guardian does not have a financial responsibility, but instead looks out for your person. A guardian makes decisions about issues such as where you should live, and also makes sure you have proper nutrition and medical care.
If a guardian is needed, someone – usually a family member – files a petition with the court to become your guardian. The court will consider whether this person is the best person to fill this role.
If the court decides someone else would be better suited, it may appoint a disinterested third party to serve as the guardian. There are persons who make their livelihoods by working as professional guardians, just as there are persons who work as professional conservators.
If you wish to have a voice in whom the court appoints as guardian, you should nominate persons in order of preference in your Advance Directive or Last Will. The court honors these nominations, if possible. We have many years of expertise in establishing, defending and administering guardianships and conservatorships.
If you have questions or concerns about Guardianship issues, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our guardianship attorneys.
A Living Trust is an agreement between you (the Settlor or Trustor) and an individual or entity (the Trustee) made during your lifetime. The trust agreement determines how assets placed in the Trust will be managed and distributed. Trusts can be Revocable or Irrevocable.
A Revocable Living Trust can provide various benefits to meet lifetime purposes:
• A trust provides for the management of your assets during your lifetime and names someone to assume responsibility for them if you become disabled.
• You determine how your assets are to be managed by providing written instructions in the trust.
• Your estate avoids the expenses and fees of probate upon your death 2because the trust contains instructions for the distribution of your assets after without court proceedings.
• With special planning, a trust can help lower or avoid inheritance taxes, as well as allow you to set special provisions for minor or disabled children.
• Revocable Trusts are subject to amendment or termination according to the terms of the trust agreement.
An Irrevocable Trust can provide substantial estate tax savings or shelter assets from the uninsured medical expenses of long term care such as the costs of a nursing home. Such trusts require careful planning.
Irrevocable Trusts, cannot be changed or cancelled and have special tax treatment.
DISCLAIMER: The Attorneys at Martin, Elliott & Snell, P.C., are licensed to practice in the state of Oregon. Our principal office is located in Tualatin, Oregon. We also have an attorney who is licensed in the state of Washington. The information provided on this website is offered for informational purposes only. It is not offered as legal advice and does not constitute legal advice. Martin, Elliott & Snell, P.C., nor any of its attorneys, does not seek to represent you based upon your visit to or review of this website. This website may be considered advertising under the applicable rules of professional conduct. You should not make legal hiring decisions based upon brochures, advertising, or other promotional materials.
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