The Law Office of
Wills & Trusts • Estate Planning • Probate • Trust Administration
What We Can Help With
Estate planning is for everyone. During the planning process, you and your attorney define and clarify your wishes including establishing care arrangements for you and your minor or dependent children if you are disabled, and how your assets will be distributed at your death. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney ensures that a comprehensive plan is created to address your specific needs.
Probate is the court-supervised administration of a decedent’s estate. During the time of a recent loss, this process can seem intimidating. Working with an experienced professional can make the probate process less daunting.
The process of administering a trust is similar to the probate process but without court supervision. Because the process avoids court supervision, it is often faster and more private than probate.
Estate Planning and Administration Services
My practice is centered around providing you with counseling and guidance regarding estate planning and estate administration that is backed by both experience and education. To ensure that your unique needs are met, I work collaboratively with you to understand your situation and to define the right solution for you.
Whether drafting an estate plan or helping to administer the estate of a loved one, I believe that communication is a critical component of a successful attorney-client relationship. I always endeavor to clearly explain the steps we are taking and why we are taking them, and I welcome questions to ensure that there is no confusion regarding the process.
I have developed this website to provide you with an overview of my firm and additional information concerning the areas on which I focus my practice. One of my primary goals for this website is to provide you with a solid baseline of information to streamline our later meetings in an effort to provide you with a more cost-effective service.
Please call my office with any questions or to schedule an appointment. I offer a 15-minute introductory Zoom video call or conference call, during which we will briefly discuss your issues and concerns so I can determine if I am the right person to assist you.
Wills & Trusts
As part of developing a comprehensive estate plan, I help families and individuals create wills or trusts that provide clear direction to their personal representative or trustee regarding the administration of their estate and distribution of their assets to reduce the possibility of confusion, disputes, and additional heartache for their families. While many people are uncomfortable contemplating the end of their life, one of the greatest gifts you can give to your loved ones is a clear set of instructions to ensure a smooth transfer of your estate.
A will, which is only effective at death, is a legal document that nominates someone (your personal representative) to administer your estate, details your wishes regarding the distribution of your property (your estate), and nominates who will care for your minor children after your death.
Dying intestate (dying without a will) means that a court will appoint a personal representative to administer your estate, which may not be the person you want to be appointed. Your estate will be distributed based on Oregon law, which may not reflect your desires.
A revocable living trust (usually just called a trust) is similar to a will in that it specifies how your estate should be distributed after your death. However, since a trust is effective when you create it, it also provides instructions to your trustee regarding your care should you become incapacitated and unable to manage your affairs. A properly funded trust will also allow your estate to avoid the probate process, saving your family time and money after your passing.
There is a common misconception that estate planning is only for rich people. In reality, estate planning is for everyone. A well-developed, comprehensive estate plan is important not just to administer your estate at death, but also during any period when you are incapacitated. Estate planning allows you to appoint people to act on your behalf, take care of your children, and manage your estate (your bank accounts, house, cars, and other assets) in the event of disability or death. It is an invaluable tool for single parents.
Although many people believe that an estate consists of a vast array of financial and real estate holdings, it is really just a way to refer to everything you own. Your estate includes your car, house, bank accounts, retirement accounts, boat, etc.
You don’t have to tackle estate planning on your own. I’m here to help you through every stage of the process. I offer education and the benefit of my experience every step of the way as we develop and implement your plan.
Simply put, probate is the court supervised administration of your estate after you die. The purpose of probate is to confirm the validity of your will (if you have one), ensure that all of your debts and taxes are paid and then to distribute the remainder of your estate either according to the terms of your will, or based on Oregon statute, if you don’t have a will. Probate is required whether someone dies without a will (called an intestate estate) or with a will.
The probate process in Oregon is fairly straightforward and can usually be completed in 6-9 months if you’ve kept good financial records and there are no surprises. “Surprises” would include unknown creditors, unknown heirs, or unexpected challenges to your will. The probate process is made even easier if you have a clear and up-to-date estate plan stating who you want to administer your estate, who you want to care for any minor children, and who you want to inherit your assets. It is critically important to note that any assets with valid beneficiary designations (life insurance, retirement plans, etc.) will not be controlled by the terms of your will, unless you’ve named your estate as the beneficiary.
The costs for the probate process (court filing fee, attorney fees, appraisal fees, etc.) are paid for by the estate and not the personal representative (executor). As a general rule, your heirs are not responsible for your debts and taxes which will be paid by your estate.
I help you navigate the probate process, regardless of whether or not the deceased has a will. I strive to take exceptional care to guide each client through every step of the process with compassion, understanding, and professionalism.
Trust administration is similar to probate estate administration. Since there is no court involvement, this process has the potential to move much more quickly. There is also a decreased chance of conflict, as you don’t have to file your trust with the court, unlike with a will.
Also unlike a will, a trust is effective immediately when signed. This means that if you are incapacitated, the terms of your trust will guide your trustee regarding your physical care and the management of your finances.
I understand that estate planning may be a difficult topic and that administering a loved one’s estate can be a very challenging, confusing and scary process. However, I offer the support, education, and roadmaps necessary for successful trust administration. Click the button below for more detailed information about how trust administration works and how I can best assist you and your family.
See What Others Are Saying
See What Others Are Saying
“Matthew was knowledgeable and patient. Preparing for your death is not that much fun, but Matthew made the whole experience fun and interesting. I finally feel if I died right now, my affairs are in order and I would not leave a mess for my family. Matthew looked out or my best interest. I have recommended him to others.”
– Catherine G.
“He explained my options when setting up my Trust and Will and had extensive questions that facilitated compiling the information quickly to move forward. I have one more meeting with my attorney to collect the Trust after all parties have been contacted and signed documentation.”
– Mark S.
“I so appreciate all of your help and expertise in getting my estate documents completed. It’s a comfort to know my affairs are in order.”
– Gerry W.
“Matt provided exceptional consulting for our estate planning. He is very knowledgeable and easy to work with. So appreciate working with a professional who clearly explains complex matters. Thanks Matt!”
– Jean P.
“We would both like to thank you for your work in probating Jerry’s parents’ estates! It was definitely a learning experience for me! It is such a relief to finally have it done! We would be happy to send referrals your way, as the opportunity arises. Thanks again for your kind and professional assistance.”
– Annie & Jerry D.
“We have used Matt several times and I only have high praise for his expertise and his professionalism. Matt always delivers above and beyond. As usual, it was wonderful working with Matt.”
– Ilene A.
“Matthew and his team were wonderful to work with. He took the time to explain the process, truly teaching us along the way. He also made us feel comfortable to ask questions. He understands estate planning isn’t something most people do everyday and made it so easy for us. We would recommend him to anyone!”
– Katie K.
“I am thankful for your diligence and knowledge in assisting me to administer my father’s trust. As you know, I went through a few attorneys before finding your practice and wish I had found you first!”
– Laura B.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Do I Need a Lawyer for Estate Planning?
Having a lawyer oversee the creation of your will establishes its legitimacy and accuracy. While a lawyer’s advisement is not required by law to draft a will, it is highly recommended. A lawyer who specializes in generating a will can ensure that you do not miss any important aspects while planning.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer for Estate Administration (Probate)?
For probate cases, an attorney is necessary. While you could attempt the probate process on your own, know that there is a great deal of legal paperwork that is best left to a lawyer.
How Much Will This Cost?
Cost is heavily dependent on your circumstances. Every will, trust, estate, and family is unique. Even with a will, probate court can extend on for a lengthy period of time. No matter what kind of circumstances you are facing, I promise to work with you to develop a plan that is in the best interest of you or your loved ones.
I Feel Overwhelmed. Is This Normal?
What you are feeling is perfectly normal. This may be an emotional time or a difficult subject matter for you to think about. You may also know very little about wills, trusts, and estate planning in general, and that’s okay. Education throughout every stage of the process is a major part of my philosophy as an estate planning lawyer. I will see to it that you understand the process every step of the way and that you receive the support you need.