Evergreen Law LLC

THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING A SOLID ESTATE PLAN

NOW IS THE TIME.

With the COVID-19 virus having reached global pandemic proportions and the death toll on the rise, there has never been a more important time to have a solid estate plan in place to ensure that your assets are properly safeguarded for your loved ones.

For some, this may entail having your existing estate plan reviewed to ensure it is up-to-date and accurate. Common examples of major life events that require estate planning review and revisions are:

• New children or grandchildren

• Getting married

• Divorce or death of a spouse

• A change in physical or mental capacity

• Purchasing or refinancing a home

• New accounts

For those who don’t have yet have an estate plan, it is important that one is put in place.  For many people, the words “estate planning” can conjure up thoughts of large inheritances and tax shelters.  Estate Planning is Not just for the Wealthy, it is for Everyone.  Estate planning is a necessary financial strategy that acts to ensure that your assets, however big or small, are passed on to your loved ones/family in the manner you want.   Alternatively, going through the probate process if you should die “intestate” (i.e. with no will or trust in place), can tie up your assets for an indefinite period of time and can create a number of undesirable results for your family and/or loved ones after you have gone.  If you die “intestate”, you basically have no control over when and in what manner/proportion your assets will be distributed to your loved ones.

AMONG OTHER BENEFITS, A SOLID ESTATE PLAN CAN HELP YOU TO:

• Avoid Lengthy Probate and Costly Probate Fees

• Minimize Family Discord

• Arrange for the Guardianship of Your Minor Children

• Preserve Wealth throughout generations

• Plan for your Incapacity

• Protect Assets from creditors, divorces, and lawsuits

• Provide for Loved Ones with Special Needs while preserving eligibility for government-sponsored programs

• Provide for orderly Family Business Succession

• Promote a Charitable Cause

• Promote Your Values throughout generations

• Potentially help to minimize estate taxes

THE BASICS.

The basic estate planning documents every adult should have in place are:

1) Last Will and Testament.

Also known as a “Will”, this is a document in which you 1) name your beneficiaries/the recipients of your property, 2) name desired guardians for your children, as well as managers for your children’s property, 3) name a personal representative (Executor) to handle your estate after death, and 4) instruct how debts or taxes should be paid.  Everyone Should Have a Will.

Although a trust can provide greater control and a large variety of unique advantages for your family and loved ones (see below), everyone still needs a will.

2) Oregon Revocable Living Trust.

Sometimes referred to as a “Living Trust”, a Revocable Living Trust is a popular estate planning option with a variety of benefits.  A Living Trust is a legal entity created to hold ownership of the individual’s assets.  A Living Trust is a three-part agreement among the grantor, the trustee and the beneficiary (ies).  The person who creates/forms the Trust is called the Grantor and, in most cases, will also serve as the Trustee and be the Beneficiary during her lifetime.  The Trustee is the person who Controls and Manages the Assets in the Trust during the grantor’s lifetime, with successor trustees named to step in once you die, or otherwise become incapacitated, to ensure that your assets are either managed or distributed to your named beneficiaries in accordance with your wishes/instructions upon death.

The main benefits of creating a Living Trust in Oregon are:

• Avoids Probate and Costly Court Fees • Distribution of Assets Immediately Upon Death (no wait time)

• Maintains Privacy

• Reduces chance of Court dispute

• Allows Full Control over Assets during life and after death

• Can Protect Children’s Inheritance if Surviving Spouse Remarries

• Protects you in case of Incapacitation

• Avoids Conservatorship

• Can help defer or minimize Estate Tax, subject to structuring advice from a financial advisor/C.P.A.

• Provides a Greater Level of Inheritance Management for:

• A child with Disabilities

• A child with Drug and Alcohol problems

• Conditional distributions, based on finishing a degree or other accomplishment

• A trust is also more Difficult to Contest than a Will, providing the Security that Your Arrangements will Remain in Place

3) Advance Directive.

An Advance Directive for health care, otherwise known as a “Medical Directive” addresses your medical wishes and tells your doctor which treatments you do/do not want if you should become incapacitated.  It also names a person to decide 1) what efforts should be employed to help keep you alive, should you face a life-or-death situation and 2) whether or not you wish to be kept alive in certain critical situations by artificial means.  Right now, everyone should have an Advance Directive on file with their loved ones and local hospital(s).

4) Medical Power of Attorney.

A Medical Power of Attorney compliments an Advance Directive, as you can designate who you want/ trust is in charge to be in charge of your healthcare, in the event that you become incapacitated.  If you have health concerns, such as being diagnosed with a serious or terminal illness, or generally declining health, this is an important document to have in place.  It’s also a good precautionary measure to take, even if you are currently in good health. A Medical Power of Attorney should be kept on file with loved ones, their doctor and/or local hospital.

5) Durable Financial Power of Attorney.

The Durable Financial Power of Attorney is a document that allows someone else to manage your day-to-day finances, in the event you become incapacitated and are unable to make financial decisions for yourself. It grants that trusted person the legal authority to act on your behalf for financial issues.  Financial powers can include:

• Banking and other financial institution transactions

• Personal property transactions

• Handling the operation of a business

• Insurance and annuity transactions

• Government benefits (such as Social Security, Medicare or unemployment compensation)

• Retirement benefits

• Tax matters

• Stock, bond or other securities transactions

• Estate, trust and other beneficiary transactions

• Claims and litigation

• Safe deposit box access

• Making gifts to individuals or charities

DON’T PUT IT OFF ANY LONGER.

If you do not currently have an estate plan in place – or – you are in need of necessary revisions to your current plan, please Reach Out to Evergreen Law Group Today to schedule a Consultation.  We can help you determine which type of estate plan is the right fit for you and your family, as Evergreen Law Group offers a variety of competitively-priced, comprehensive estate planning packages to suit every need and budget.

Some things to think about before your consultation:

1. Who will be the executor of my will?

2. Who do I want to be the guardian of my minor children if I die?

3. Who will make health care and financial decisions for me if I am unable to make them for myself?

4. Who will be the successor trustee in the event of my death or incapacity?

In light of the current limits on social interaction, we are proud to offer both phone and teleconference consultation options, to ensure that you remain safe and healthy during the important process of safeguarding your assets for your loved ones.

Have a question you do not see the answer for? Feel free to email me at natalie@evergreenlawgroup.net.

Reach Out to Evergreen Law Group Today. 

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Natalie Wetenhall

Evergreen Law Group, LLC, is a boutique law firm based in Southern Oregon that has extensive knowledge and experience in business law. Our attorneys have worked at top-tier law firms and investment banks and are able to bring the resources and expertise of ‘big firm’ practice to our clients, while maintaining the highly personalized service that a smaller firm has to offer. This combination allows for innovative and cost-effective solutions to the unique challenges that our clients face.
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