The Law Office of Matthew Kress
Wills & Trusts • Estate Planning • Probate • Trust Administration
Estate Planning Services
Portland Estate Planning Services
Estate Planning is for Everyone.
Estate planning is not just for retired people, although most individuals do think about it more as they get older. Unfortunately, we can’t successfully predict how long we will live, and illness and accidents happen to people of all ages.
Estate planning is not just for the wealthy, either. Regardless of how much money someone has, they generally know how and to whom they want it to be distributed after death or in the event of disability. Good estate planning often means more to families and single parents with modest assets, as they can afford to lose the least.
What is Estate Planning & Why Does it Matter?
Despite common belief, the term estate does not actually refer to a sprawling mansion across 15 acres that will be handed down to your heirs. Rather, the real world definition of estate simply refers to what you own. This could include cars, homes, jewelry, investments, cash, and other liquid assets.
Without estate planning, the fate of your assets after you die or become disabled is not always clear. The good news (of sorts) is that you already have an estate plan. The not-so-good news is that it has been developed for you by the state legislature. This plan is exactly the same for everyone else who has not drafted a will or trust, or taken any other estate planning steps.
The state’s estate plan makes sense as a fall back if someone has never planned. However, these one-size-fits-all estate plans seldom match up with what the person really wanted, or what the beneficiaries thought was going to happen.
Through the estate planning process, you develop a plan that allows you to control your property while you are alive, care for yourself and loved ones in the event that you are incapacitated or disabled, and ensures that that you give what you have, to whom you want, and in the manner and at the time you desire.
A successful estate plan balances the above with your desire to save as much as legally possible on professional fees, court costs, and tax dollars.
The three key components of estate planning are described below.
Incapacity planning involves multiple documents that specify your wishes in the event you are incapacitated or unable to advocate for yourself due to disability or illness. Here are some of the documents included in incapacity planning:
A Living Will – This document is also known as an Advanced Medical Directive. It states the kind of healthcare you are willing to receive if you should lose consciousness or the capacity to advocate on your own wellbeing. This should not be confused with a Last Will and Testament, as it has nothing to do with your property or assets after death.
Financial Power of Attorney – Designating a financial power of attorney gives your chosen representative the authority to manage and use your finances if you are unable to do so yourself.
Do Not Resuscitate Orders – A do not resuscitate order, or a DNR, is a legal document usually included in a living will. It specifies what resuscitative measures you are or are not willing to receive should you stop breathing or your heart stops beating.
Health Care Power of Attorney – This document designates a representative that has the power to make medical decisions on your behalf. Healthcare power of attorney is usually detailed in a living will so it can take effect immediately if you should lose the capacity to make your own decisions.
Wealth Transfer Planning
Dying can be an expensive process – a successful estate plan minimizes the costs to your estate after you pass. Wealth transfer planning is one of the most powerful tools used in estate planning. I work to draft a customized plan that is tailored to your unique needs and assets.
Your wealth transfer plan is designed to avoid costs and obstacles where possible and to recognize and plan for the unavoidable costs and obstacles and minimize their impact. Additionally, wealth transfer plans minimize or remove the probate court involvement with the administration of your estate.
Beneficiary Protection & Promoting Family Harmony
Beneficiary protection protects your beneficiaries from themselves. When a beneficiary inherits a large sum of money, it is not an uncommon occurrence that they will experience “sudden wealth syndrome.” With this affliction, the beneficiary often sees the money they inherited dwindle quickly.
To protect beneficiaries from this phenomenon, a protective trust can be put into place. With certain provisions, such as how much money and when, parents can safeguard their children and grandchildren from “sudden wealth syndrome.” A protective trust can also be used if the beneficiary is unable to manage money due to age, disability, or other mitigating factors.
Additionally, these types of trusts and protection planning procedures promote family harmony and mitigate conflict. When protection planning is not in place, arguments often ensue that pit one family member against another regarding what the deceased may have wanted. Both parties usually insist they know what the deceased would have really wanted, but with no defined planning, it is impossible to know who is right in such an argument.
Beneficiary protection planning will help avoid family squabbles and ensure that inherited money is managed properly by beneficiaries.
Portland Estate Planning Services
Estate planning is the primary focus of my practice. I have been practicing law in Oregon since 2008 and started my own law firm in 2012. Each client I work with receives an individualized plan that is tailored to their unique needs, assets, and wants. I am not here to merely fill in the blanks on a do-it-yourself form. Instead, I guide you through the estate planning process from beginning to end through a lens of professional education and experience.
Estate planning includes drafting wills and trusts, guardianship and conservatorship nominations, power of attorney orders, and living wills. I work with you to make sure every detail is addressed in your estate plan, giving you peace of mind and a sense of control.
Contact my office today or click the button below to schedule an introductory consultation.