My practice includes the preparation of estate planning documents which deal with some or all of the following depending upon the circumstances: testamentary distributions after death, gifts made during a client’s life time, legal incompetence, disability, federal estate taxes, state inheritance taxes, health care decisions, and the disposition of a party’s remains upon death.
Such estate planning documents include: wills, testamentary trusts, living trusts, disclaimer trusts, marital trusts, by pass trusts, advance directives, HIPAA release forms, durable powers of attorney, disclaimers, and appointment of an agent for the disposition of remains forms.
A client who wishes to make sure that his gift goes to the client's named devisee or beneficiary and not that person's spouse may wish to emphasize that point in the will or trust or may insist that the devisee or beneficiary have a prenuptial agreement.
When a living trust is created, that trust to be effective must be funded. Funding a trust typically includes the preparation of a deed transferring a client’s interest in real property into the trust. This is particularly important if a client owns real property in more than one state. The creation and funding of a living trust in this way can avoid the necessity of filing additional probates in other states which are called ancillary probates. While it is hard to think of a circumstance when a joint will would be appropriate, it is possible for a married couple to create a joint living trust so long as an appropriate property agreement is created by the couple.
The creation of an estate plan is the beginning, not the end, of this process.
Circumstances change. Wills can be rewritten or a codicil created to attach to an existing will. A trust agreement creating a revocable living trust can be amended by the settlor(s). This can be done and should be done periodically to bring the will or trust agreement up to date.
If a settlor (the person who creates and funds a trust) of a living trust, who is also the initial trustee, dies or becomes disabled to such an extent that the settlor can no longer act as trustee, a successor trustee is appointed as provided for in the trust agreement to manage the trust in accordance with state law and the terms and provisions of the trust agreement. Oregon has adopted its version of the Uniform Trust Code which specifies the duties that a trustee must perform and rights that a beneficiary may exercise. Trustees and beneficiaries may require assistance in determining what is required for a trust to be properly managed.
If a person who created a will or has no estate plan at all dies, it may be necessary to apply to a court to probate that estate. If an estate meets certain requirements, it can be probated in a summary fashion as a small estate.
Under certain circumstances it may be appropriate to apply to a court to appoint a guardian or a conservator for a disabled adult.
I have experience in all of these issues and circumstances.
With regard to probates, small estates, guardianships and conservatorships, these are court cases. My practice involving these types of cases is primarily in the circuit courts in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas Counties, which are in the State of Oregon. Some of the cities in this area include: Beaverton, Forest Grove, Gresham, Hillsboro, Milwaukee, Oregon City, Portland, and Tigard.