A Will or “Last Will and Testament” is a set of written instructions to the court that details how your estate will be handled, including who will step into your shoes to manage your affairs on your passing, and who will receive an inheritance from your estate. A Will’s instructions are limited to those assets and matters under the jurisdiction of the probate court. In Oregon, your Will must be in writing and must be signed by you and two witnesses. The will has to be signed in the presence of the two witnesses, and the witnesses’ signatures must be notarized. Failure to strictly adhere to Oregon’s legal formalities will invalidate your Will.
Our team of attorneys at Oregon Estate and Elder Law in Lake Oswego specializes in elder law and provides a variety of services including Medicaid eligibility, veterans benefits, and probate. An estate planning attorney can help you properly create your Will and other estate planning documents in accordance with Oregon law. A basic estate plan is a set of documents that includes a Will, possibly a Revocable Living Trust, and supporting documents such as a Durable Power of Attorney, Advance Directive, and HIPAA Release. These legal tools help individuals, couples, and families plan for and deal with illness, incapacity, and death. These tools also play an essential role in reducing income and estate taxes, providing for the smooth transition of a business, and supporting minor children.
Some individuals may want legal guidance with additional matters beyond the scope of the basic legal tools mentioned above. There are advanced planning techniques available to save taxes and provide asset protection for your beneficiaries.
Our affiliate website, Collier Law, includes more information on advanced estate planning in Oregon.
An estate attorney also helps people settle a Will once someone passes away. When a person dies, they often leave behind property and debts. Every state has a court-supervised process to transfer the title of property from a deceased person to their heirs or beneficiaries under a valid will or “Last Will and Testament.” A court will monitor the transfer of a deceased person’s property after the payment of their debts. This court-supervised process is called probate.
Probate in Oregon involves a good deal of legal paperwork that must be filed in a timely manner. Probate should be handled by an attorney with an understanding of the legal issues involved to achieve the results you want. Most probate courts in Oregon will not allow a person to move forward as a personal representative in full probate without an attorney because the process is too complicated. A probate lawyer can assist with ensuring all creditors were dealt with appropriately according to Oregon law, all assets are correctly consolidated into the estate and distributed to the correct beneficiaries, all income and estate tax filings are addressed, and other issues that could arise. There are many duties, and requirements of the personal representative that an attorney can ensure are seamlessly met. In fact, in many counties, the court requires all court-appointed fiduciaries to complete a training class after appointment to help them better understand their legal duties.
An attorney who specializes in estate settlement can give you an estimate of the costs and timelines for probate. In many cases, it takes more than a year to complete the court-supervised estate settlement process. The process can be costly, with court filing fees, accountant fees, attorney fees, and other expenses of administration.
During the probate process, the attorney will prepare and file pleadings in the appropriate county asking that a personal representative be appointed, and a probate court case be opened. The will must be analyzed by the court, and all heirs and devisees must be located and provided with notice that the probate process has begun. Creditors must also be notified of the probate proceedings. The decedent’s assets and property must be collected, itemized for the court, protected, and preserved throughout the entire process by the Personal Representative.
The probate court must also be continually informed of the progress in settling the estate, and many additional documents must be prepared and filed with the court during the administration. These documents include proof that all heirs and devisees have been noticed of the probate, an inventory of assets, an affidavit stating that all creditors were addressed correctly and valid claims were paid, and one or more accountings detailing the income and expenses related to the estate.
Our affiliate website, Collier Law, includes more information on settling probate estates in Oregon.
Will and Estate Attorney Cost
The cost for a Will and other estate planning documents can depend on a client’s specific needs. If a client only needs a Will alone, the price will be a few hundred dollars. However, we often prepare a set of estate planning documents for our clients that includes other critical documents like a Durable Power of Attorney, Advance Directive, and HIPAA Release. An estate planning attorney can help you determine what documents you will need to protect yourself and your loved ones.
When you need an attorney in Lake Oswego, Oregon Estate and Elder Law is here to help! Call today to speak with one of our experienced attorneys!