Estate Planning Guide

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Estate Planning Guide

Estate planning doesn’t have to be a difficult or laborious process. However, it does require a level of personal reflection regarding your future and the well being of your family. It is also necessary for anyone going through a divorce to update his or her current estate plan. Below is a simple estate planning guide to direct you and your loved ones towards a comfortable and secure future.

Basic estate planning begins with an evaluation of your assets and a review of any previous estate planning strategies you’ve employed. Here are some questions to answer:

  • How are your assets titled?
  • Who is the beneficiary on your life insurance and retirement benefits?
  • What college investments have you established for younger generations?
  • Who will make decisions if you become incapacitated?

Once you’ve collected this estate planning information, you can start to think about your objectives and concerns. Some matters to consider are: your income requirements, naming a guardian for your children, the amount of creditor protection you’ll need, and designating beneficiaries.

At this point, you’ll probably want to speak with an attorney to solidify a plan for estate administration. Being familiar with the proper estate planning tools will help guide you past common obstacles, ensuring your assets pass on to your intended heirs while minimizing state and federal taxes. One of these tools is a will. It dictates how your estate is to be distributed. A trust is another option. Trusts deliver certain assets to a beneficiary with minimal tax interference.

It will be necessary to work with your attorney to prepare the proper documents. After signing the necessary papers and transferring your assets, you will need to continue to monitor the estate planning techniques you have in place. This will include preparing your attorney to provide ongoing assistance with estate administration after your passing. Your attorney will be supporting executors and trustees in dealing with difficult and multifaceted issues: post-mortem tax planning, probate, and annual contributions.

Estate Planning after Marriage or Divorce

After a divorce, it is extremely important to update your will. Oregon law treats a divorced spouse the same as a predeceased spouse, which can complicate probate proceedings. No matter the size of your estate, it is always advisable to update any estate planning documents following a divorce. This will ensure your assets are passed to the beneficiaries you intend after your death.

When you marry or remarry, any pre-existing estate plan may become void. Oregon law assumes you want your new spouse included in your estate plan and an ex-spouse excluded. Many, but not all, beneficiary designations are also changed.

Updating your will after marriage guarantees your estate will be administered as you anticipated. For example, you may still want an ex-spouse to serve as trustee of a trust for the benefit of your shared children. You should confirm these intentions to guarantee everyone understands your desires.

Estate Planning FAQs

What is an Estate? Do I have one?

Yes, you have an estate. Your Estate is basically the property you own.

What is Estate Planning?

Estate Planning is the act of determining what happens to your estate after you’re gone. An estate plan can be a simple two page will or an intricate web of multiple trusts.

When is the right time for me to think about estate planning?

You should think about estate planning after any major life changing event: a marriage, divorce, birth of a child, or change in employment. You should also rewrite your estate plan if it has been more than seven years since you last revised your plan.

When should you change your estate plan?

After a divorce or marriage, the birth of children or grandchildren, relocation, or a change in financial circumstances. Additionally after a change in the code, such as the 1997 Taxpayer Relief Act which changed over 800 sections of code.

Who should have an estate plan, will or trust?

Everyone! There is an unfortunate, widespread misconception that only the wealthy need an Estate Plan. In fact, an Estate Plan is for anyone who wishes to provide for his or her survivors. If you pass away without a will or other Estate Plan, the laws of the state take over, and these laws may not reflect your wishes or provide for the ones you love.

Why is it important to use an estate planning professional to draft a will?

Estate planning documents are only as good as the assistance, advice and instruction you receive with them. An estate planning professional will be able to ensure your assets are titled correctly, trusts are properly managed, and that your will adequately communicates your wishes.

When is it too late to draft a new will or other estate planning document?
To draft a will you must have testamentary capacity, which means an ability to understand what it means to create a will, what property you own, who would naturally be your beneficiaries, and the terms of the document when you sign. You can be elderly and you can be sick, but as long as you have capacity and there is no undue influence placed on you, you can draft a new estate plan.