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Estate Planning FAQs

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If you have questions and need help creating an estate plan tailored to your individual needs. It is best to seek the advice of an attorney who has expertise in the area of estate planning.

Estate Planning has potential financial and tax outcomes. An experienced attorney can foresee those outcomes and make sure they are favorable to your legal needs.  

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Do Online Wills Work?

 

Creating an estate plan involves considering various financial and tax implications, and it is crucial to have a knowledgeable attorney who can anticipate these outcomes and ensure that they align with your specific legal requirements. By consulting with an attorney, you can have peace of mind knowing that your estate plan is tailored to your unique circumstances, providing you with a favorable outcome.

While a will form, whether downloaded online or purchased in paper form, can be legally valid if correctly completed and properly witnessed, there are potential issues that may arise with online wills. Unfortunately, these problems are often discovered after someone has passed away, making it too late to correct any mistakes. It is not uncommon to come across online or from wills where the deceased wrote inconsistent instructions or failed to consider all possible scenarios, which an attorney typically reviews. Additionally, there may be instances where these online wills are not properly witnessed.

Having an attorney involved in the process can be beneficial in documenting the "testamentary capacity" of an older person who is making a will. This ensures that they have a sufficient understanding of their assets and their family, helping to strengthen the validity of the will in court.

Even if an online will does hold up in court, the process of getting it admitted into probate can often be more expensive than creating a will with the assistance of an attorney. It is worth considering the potential complications and costs involved to ensure that your estate plan is properly executed and your wishes are accurately carried out.

Trusts have gained popularity as a means to minimize federal estate taxes. However, with the current high federal estate tax threshold (exceeding $11 million in 2020), only a few families need to worry about this so-called "death tax." While trusts can be appealing for avoiding the costs and delays of probate, it's essential to consider the potential drawbacks.

Creating a trust involves frontloading the expense of probate during your lifetime by creating complex documents and transferring assets. The administration of a trust after someone passes away often requires notifications, accounting, and, in some cases, even a court proceeding. Surprisingly, it's not always the probate process itself that makes administering a deceased person's financial matters expensive. The complexity of family dynamics and assets can significantly contribute to the costs.

It's not uncommon for individuals to forget to transfer all their assets into their trust. In such cases, the probate process becomes necessary, in addition to the costs associated with trust administration. In other words, a trust can potentially complicate the finalization of affairs and prove to be just as expensive as probate.

Reasons to Choose a Trust?

 

For married couples who have accumulated assets exceeding Oregon's estate tax threshold of $1 million, it may be beneficial to establish a credit shelter trust. This particular type of trust allows for a strategic restructuring of assets, enabling the surviving spouse to benefit from them while keeping them separate from their own estate. By doing so, the surviving spouse can effectively avoid or reduce any potential Oregon estate tax liability.

If you happen to own real estate or possess mineral or gas rights outside of Oregon, having a trust in place can spare your loved ones from the need to go through a second or "ancillary" probate process in another state or country.

In the case of blended families, setting up a trust can prove invaluable in preventing the surviving spouse from unintentionally disinheriting their stepchildren.

For those who have a family-owned business or family-managed rental property, a trust can simplify ongoing management and ensure a smooth transition of ownership and control.

 

Lastly, if you have minor children, it is crucial to establish a trust for their inheritance. This allows you to provide specific instructions on how their guardian can access funds for their needs until they reach an appropriate age to receive their inheritance. It's important to note that this type of trust can be created as part of your will, providing comprehensive protection for your children's future.

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