Portland Estate Planning Attorneys
At Levine Law Center LLC, we believe in the importance of planning ahead for the future. As such, we offer a variety of estate planning services that can be tailored to fit your unique situation. The consequences of leaving your estate behind without a will can be devastating for your beneficiaries. Our Portland estate planning attorneys will make sure your loved ones are set up for success.
What Is an Estate Plan?
An estate plan consists of legal documents that provide instructions regarding the care and upkeep of your assets and property in the event you become incapacitated or die. It is established to ensure your final wishes are upheld and that your beneficiaries are protected. An estate plan will also dictate how to handle your affairs after your death and who will inherit your property, assets, and other legacy items.
Components of an Estate Plan
Will or Trust
A last will and testament will include information about how you would like to divide your property and assets when you die. It may also contain details regarding who you have appointed to be the guardian of your children. A trust functions the same way and requires that you appoint a trustee to carry out your final wishes.
The difference between a will and a trust is that a will has to go through the probate process, meaning it must go through a court proceeding before being executed. Therefore, a will is a matter of public record. A trust avoids the probate process and is handled privately. A trust can also be executed before you die.
Beneficiary Designation Forms
You will need to designate who will inherit various financial accounts, including bank accounts, savings accounts, retirement accounts, and life insurance policies. You can change or revoke beneficiary forms at any time. It is advisable to ensure your beneficiary designations are updated frequently.
Durable Powers of Attorney
A general durable power of attorney authorizes an individual to make decisions on your behalf regarding legal and financial matters in the event you are incapacitated and cannot do so for yourself. A durable healthcare power of attorney proves helpful in the event you cannot make medical decisions for yourself. It appoints someone else for you to make these decisions regarding end of life care and other crucial matters.
A living will provides a set of instructions regarding medical care in the event you become incapacitated. For example, if you had to be induced into a coma, would you want to be kept on life support? How long would you want to be in this state? This is usually combined with a health care power of attorney.
Letter of Intent
You should also include a letter to the executor of your will that includes any final wishes you may want to see completed. It will also provide information regarding how you would like to be buried and if you want a funeral. This is not technically a legally binding document, but it does provide a personal touch that your loved ones will appreciate. You may even include some information about values you would like the guardian of your children to teach your kids as they grow up.
What Happens if You Die Without a Will?
If you die intestate or without a will, your state’s laws will determine who will receive your assets and property. These actions may not reflect what you would have wanted, which is why it is important to dictate your preferences in a will. In Oregon, if you are married and die intestate, your spouse will inherit all your property unless you have children from another relationship (this includes grandchildren and great-grandchildren).