503-888-0952 russ@pike-legal.com

Frequently Asked Questions

Do You Need an Oregon Trust?

In Oregon you have a choice of three plans: 1) Intestate where the state of Oregon has already decided how you assets will be distrusted on your death, will decide who should manage your estate, and will not do any tax planning for you; 2) a Will plan that will leave your assets to those you select after your estate has gone through a long, costly, public Probate process; and 3) a Trust plan where the trustee you named will take over the management of your assets without court intervention or public display, and see that those you care about are taken care of after your death.

Very few, if anyone, would select the Intestate plan of the State of Oregon.  Most people would prefer not to have a public court proceeding with its associated time, high cost and publicity if it could be avoided.  A Trust plan provides for privacy, speed, and less cost at the time of death which is preferable to many Oregonians. The downside of a Trust is that you have to manage the assets during your life and after your death, and it usually cost more to prepare up front.

  • You have a child or children that are minors;
  • You have a child that has a condition that will require special assistance when you are gone and will need someone to manage their care and money;
  • You own property such as a rental apartment or house that is hard to divide into separate gifts;
  • For whatever reason, addiction, lack of education, or careless spending habits, someone you will leave money or property to needs asset protection to protect their inheritance;
  • You would rather decide who gets your property at your death instead of letting the State of Oregon make that decision;
  • You are in a second or third marriage and you have children from a prior marriage and you would like to make sure that they receive an inheritance;
  • You have one or more children even if they are adults;
  • You do not have a child;
  • You have not determined the date you will die;
  • You don’t know if you will suffer a debilitating disease or injury that will prevent you from making financial and medical decision;
  • You would like to make a specific charitable gift;
  • You do not like to pay taxes and would like to do tax planning so at your death money goes to your family and not the government;
  • You own a business and want to exit that business with the most value and least taxes, while providing for your retirement income;
  • Any individual at a high risk of being sued such as doctor, dentist, attorney, accountant, financial advisor, realtor, and insurance agent;
  • You have property that you would like to leave to someone you select; and
  • You want to select the person or persons who make financial and medical decisions when you are unable to make those decisions.

Using a Trust in your estate planning offers many advantages. Trusts are private; the court is not involved; you do not have to pay the fees and costs of Probate; and assets can be distributed immediately at the time of death. Trust can be revocable.

If you are looking to do an estate plan to take care of your family, but are unsure if a Will or Trust is right for your situation, pick up the phone and give me , Russ Pike, a call at 503.888.0952 to arrange a free consultation and have all our questions answered.

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Do I need a current Oregon estate plan to protect my family?

When people think about estate planning they have visions of Wills and Trusts. Estate planning is more than Wills and Trusts. It also includes planning for those times when you cannot make financial decisions for yourself. For example, you need a Durable Power of Attorney to have a decision maker in place to make financial decisions when you are unable to make decisions on your own.

If you cannot make medical decisions for yourself, who do you want to make those decisions? By planning ahead you can not only name an agent to make your medical decisions, but you can express your end of life treatment wishes in an Oregon Advance Directive.  Just so you are certain that the person who have appointed to make medical decisions has access to your records, through a HIPAA Waiver and Release, you can give permission to your doctor or hospital to provide them with the details of your medical condition.

I cannot think of any reason a person would not have an estate plan. For those left behind or those that have to handle your affairs while you are incapacitated, it is an act of love. However, there are certain red flag situations, that estate planning should be mandatory. Here are some of the red flag situations:

  • You have a child or children that are minors;
  • You have a child that has a condition that will require special assistance when you are gone and will need someone to manage their care and money;
  • You own property such as a rental apartment or house that is hard to divide into separate gifts;
  • For whatever reason, addiction, lack of education, or careless spending habits, someone you will leave money or property to needs asset protection to protect their inheritance;
  • You would rather decide who gets your property at your death instead of letting the State of Oregon make that decision;
  • You are in a second or third marriage and you have children from a prior marriage and you would like to make sure that they receive an inheritance;
  • You have one or more children even if they are adults;
  • You do not have a child;
  • You have not determined the date you will die;
  • You don’t know if you will suffer a debilitating disease or injury that will prevent you from making financial and medical decision;
  • You would like to make a specific charitable gift;
  • You do not like to pay taxes and would like to do tax planning so at your death money goes to your family and not the government;
  • You own a business and want to exit that business with the most value and least taxes, while providing for your retirement income;
  • Any individual at a high risk of being sued such as doctor, dentist, psychologist, contractor, attorney, accountant, financial advisor, trust officer, stock broker, realtor, insurance agent, and consultant;
  • You have property that you would like to leave to someone you select; and
  • You want to select the person or persons who make financial and medical decisions when you are unable to make those decisions.

If you don’t fall into any of these situations, then you may not need estate planning.  It is tough on your family when you die. Don’t make it tougher on them by failing to plan your affairs.  If you would like to discuss your estate planning needs and options, and have all your questions answered, give me, Russ Pike, a call at 503.888.0952 and schedule a free consultation.

 

What Happens to My Internet Accounts When I Die?

The use of internet based assets, is part of our everyday life. Personally, I have a website, laptop, linked in account, face book account, google plus account, iPad, iPhone, email accounts, social media accounts, family photo online account, storage of family videos,  cloud sharing accounts, music accounts, cloud storage, blogs, eBook accounts, video game accounts, and I access banking, investment and credit card information online. Twenty-five years ago, I had a pager. Thirty years ago, I bought my first desktop computer. Forty years ago digital assets were non-existent. Remember the transistor radio and dial up phones?

Technical assets are part of everyone’s lives today. If your estate plan does not include planning for your technical property then you only have half a plan. Think about how much of your life revolves around technology.  Even for that rare baby boomer who still shuns technology, my guess is that they have a cell phone and an email account. Not planning for your technological assets can create major problems when you die.  If you are like the majority of people you have numerous accounts for personal fun, for communications, for financial transactions, and for buying products online.  What do you do with the list of accounts, user names and passwords so that person who you have designated to handle your estate when you pass will be able to access those accounts?

Failure to plan for you technological assets can result in lost photos, lost information, failure to pay bills, failure to transfer bank accounts, and loss of insurance benefits. In addition, with proper planning you can avoid problems such as identity theft and loss of assets.

In recent years loss have been passed that help your loved ones access your accounts after you have passed. In Oregon, a new law is scheduled to become effective on January 1, 2017. I know that you may have issues with taking inventory of your internet accounts and recording account information, user names and passwords. However, without making a technological inventory, your loved ones may not be able to take care of your estate and family legacy items may be lost.  There is an option of storing all your information on a highly encrypted online vault.  However, you decide to maintain your technological inventory, you need to create your inventory now and let the person who you have selected to handle your estate know where it is located.

If you would like to discuss your technological assets and options on how to handle them on your death or disability, pick up the phone and call me, Russ Pike, at 503.888.0952 and schedule a free consultation to get all your questions answered.

 

What are the Potential Problems with an Oregon Power of Attorney?

Estate planning includes not only planning for wealth transfer at the time of death, but also planning for incapacity during life. One way to plan for handling your financial transactions when you cannot do so, is to name a decision maker, an agent, to make financial decisions for you.  Naming a money manager agent is done through a durable Power of Attorney. In this document you name the person you want to handle your money matters when you cannot do so and give this person certain powers that you have identified in the Power of Attorney. Banks and other financial institutions will usually recognize a Power of Attorney and everything operates smoothly during your incapacity. However, sometimes problems arise with the use of an Oregon durable Power of Attorney. Potential problems include:

  • You can lose control of your property. With a Power of Attorney, your agent has access to your property. If you agent is dishonest he or she can take some or all of your property;
  • You use Springing Power of Attorney which does not give the agent any authority until you become disabled. The problem is someone has to tell you are incapacitated and get a doctor’s certification of that fact. Sometimes this is a very emotional situation; and
  • You are overly conservative and do not give your agent enough power. The more precise you are in your Power of Attorney in detailing what your agent can do, the more likely he or she will be able to handle your transactions with third parties;

A bank, brokerage or savings institution will not accept your Power of Attorney. While your Power of Attorney is a well drafted legal document, the human being on the other side of the counter may not accept it. It does happen. There may be no complete solution, but by keeping your Power of Attorney updated, the chances are good a bank will accept a two year old Power of Attorney as opposed to a twenty year old document.

We never know when incapacity may set in. It could be from a traumatic event such as an automobile accident or progressively through onset of a mental or physical disease process. If you would like to discuss your specific situation and how you can plan to have someone take care of your affairs in the event that you do become incapacitated, pick up the phone and  give me, Russ Pike, a call at 503.888.0952 to schedule a free consultation to get all your questions answered.

 

 

What is a Power of Attorney and how does it work in Oregon?

Do you know if you will ever suffer incapacity? It is something that we think will never happen to us. The reality is that it happens to people all the time. No one can say I knew this was going to happen. How can you plan that unexpected event that will cause you to lose you capacity to handle your financial transactions?  One of the most used methods of handling those times when you are incapacitated is with a durable Power of Attorney.

A general durable Power of Attorney is a legal document in which you decide who will be your financial decision maker when you cannot make money matter decisions.  You name a person, call an agent, who you authorize to deal with banks, mortgage lenders, credit card companies, investment firms, and other financial entities on your behalf. The agent can not only pay your bills, but can direct your investments, sell assets, and pay off debt.  The agent can do whatever you say she or he can do in your Power of Attorney.

Immediate Power of Attorney. An immediate Power of Attorney takes effect upon signing. Your agent can handle your financial affairs       upon signing when you are not incapacitated and will continue to have that power until you terminate it or you die.

Springing Power of Attorney. You sign your Power of Attorney today and appoint an agent. The agent has no power until your become      incapacitated. Only when you are incapacitated can the agent manage your financial affairs.

We never know when incapacity may set in. It could be from a traumatic event such as an automobile accident or progressively through onset of a mental or physical disease process. If you would like to discuss your specific situation and how you can plan to have someone take care of your affairs in the event that you do become incapacitated, pick up the phone and  give me, Russ Pike, a call at 503.888.0952 to schedule a free consultation to get all your questions answered.

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What is estate planning in Oregon?

An Oregon estate plan consist of two parts;

  • A plan to transfer wealth at the time of death that is efficient, minimizes taxes, and avoids family fights; and
  • A plan to have decision makers in place for unexpected incapacity during life to handle your money mattes and your medical decisions.

There are three options for the plan to transfer wealth at death:

  • The State of Oregon plan where your family will have to file Probate and the State already has a plan in place as to who will receive your property;
  • A Last Will and Testament plan where your family will have to file Probate and you decide who will handle your estate administration and who will receive your property; and
  • A Trust plan where your family will not have to file Probate, everything will be done without Court intervention, and you decide who will be your Trustee to manage your property and you will decide who receives your property.

There are two methods to have decision makers in place for your incapacity:

  • A Durable Power of Attorney for financial matters; and
  • An Oregon Advance Directive for medical decisions.

Putting it all together requires both death planning and life planning. If you would like to discuss your options and how to select those individuals that will handle your estate at your death, your financial decisions when you cannot make them, and your medical agent, then pick up the phone and give me, Russ Pike, a call  at 503.888.0952 to arrange a free consultation to get all your questions answered.

 

What is Intestate?

The State of Oregon has an Intestate Estate Plan for you

Everyone reading this has an estate plan. What? You didn’t meet with a lawyer and create an estate plan. Think again. By being a resident of Oregon you have an estate plan. The State of Oregon has created a single plan for the 70% or Oregon residents who don’t take the time to create a plan to meet their family’s needs before they die.

  • Who is your Personal Representative under the Oregon plan? Whoever the Probate Court decides will be your Personal Representative;
  • To whom are you leaving your property when you die? The State has already decided that no matter what your wishes, it has a scheme that determines who receives your property. Don’t want property left to that brother is addicted and treated you badly all your life. Too bad if that is the person who fits in the State’s scheme. He will receive whatever property the State has determined;
  • Have a large estate and need tax planning? Sorry, the State of Oregon does not do tax planning. Taxes they may have been saved if you planned and the property distributed to your loved ones, can now go to pay taxes to the federal government and the State of Oregon; and
  • Do you avoid Probate by not planning? No. The State of Oregon requires Probate even if you do not plan. Your estate will still be depleted by court costs, appraisals, attorney fees, and taxes.

If you want to decide who will administer your estate when you die, who will get your property, who will make financial decisions for you if you become incapacitated, and who will make medical decisions when you cannot make them, pick up the phone and give me a call, Russ Pike, at 503.888.0952 to discuss how you can be in charge of your own property and get all your questions answered during your free consultation.

 

What is Oregon Trust Planning?

Most people think of the wealthy when they hear the word Trust. But a Trust is a simple estate planning technique that provides a method to efficiently handle you property while you are alive and after your death. There are three players to a Trust;

  • The Trustor or Settlor. This is the person or persons who set up the Trust and transfer money and property to the Trust. They put this money in Trust to be managed by a person of corporation for the benefit of those people that are named as beneficiaries in the Trust;
  • The Trustee. This is the person or institution that the Trustor has named to manage all the Trust assets, distribute income as directed in the Trust instrument, pay all Trust taxes, and invest Trust funds. This can be the same person as the Settlor or someone different; and
  • The Beneficiaries. These are the people who benefit from the assets held in the Trust. These can be your spouse, your children, a charity, or anyone that you name when you set up the Trust. The Beneficiaries can receive income or receive assets upon your death.

Unlike a Will which is effective upon your death, a Trust can be effective while you are alive, on your death, or both. Often, people will use Will planning for their estate, but include a trust to leave property to for the beneficiaries.  On the other hand, if you put your assets in Trust while you are alive, unless there is a specific reason that you want to Probate your assets, Trust assets do not go through the time, cost, or public scrutiny of Probate.

Which is better for you, a trust or will? If you would like to discuss what planning is best for your particular situation, pick up the phone and give me, Russ Pike, a call at 503.888.0952 to arrange a free consultation to get all your questions answered.

 

What is the Difference between a Revocable and Irrevocable Trust?

In its simplest form the difference between a revocable trust and an irrevocable trust is whether it can be amended, modified or revoked or not.  A revocable trust has the following characteristics:

  • It can be amended, modified or revoked;
  • Income from a revocable trust is taxed to the person who created the revocable trust;
  • No protection is provided against creditors, predator’s or taxing authorities; and
  • It has flexibility in that it can be changed at any time.

An irrevocable trust means just that it is irrevocable and permanent. An irrevocable trust has the following characteristics:

  • Cannot be changed or revoked;
    • The assets in the Trust are not owned by the grantor;
    • Assets in the Trust are removed from grantor’s estate;
    • The Trust provides asset protection;
    • The Trustee files Trust tax returns;
    • Depending on the amount of the transfer, a gift tax might be due; and
    • Irrevocable Trusts have less flexibility than a Revocable Trust.

Revocable and Irrevocable Trust can be used to avoid the public Probate process. There are many special Trust that are used for tax planning, asset protection, life insurance, special needs, and protection from divorce or creditors. If you would like to review your options and see if a Trust is right for you, pick up the phone and give me, Russ Pike, a call at 503.888.0952 to arrange a free consultation.

 

Which is better, an Oregon Trust or an Oregon Will?

A Will is a “testamentary instrument.”  A Will has no effect until someone dies. Once someone dies the terms of a Will determine what happens with a person’s estate. Who gets what, who gets paid, what happens Dad’s sports card collection.

In contrast, an Oregon Revocable Living Trust is effective when signed.  How your assets are managed during your life is determined by the provisions of your Trust. When you die how your assets are distributed depend on the terms of your Trust. This is why some people say a Trust is forever.

A  Will does not cover your incapacity. If you become incapacitated, your trustee will continue to manage your finances for you. If you have a Will, the court will have to appoint a Guardian to manage your well-being and health, and a Conservator to manage your finances.

Do you need a Trust or Will?  After many years of preparing estate plans for people of all wealth levels, I have come to favor Trust planning except in very small estates. Some of the advantages of a Trust include: 1) privacy; 2) no delays in asset distribution on death; 3) avoiding Probate; 4) reduced administration cost at death; 5) easier tax planning; 6) provisions for children from a first marriage when you are in a second marriage; and 7) sprinkling of distributions over time.

The answer to whether a Will or Trust is right for you depends on your specific circumstances. If you would like to discuss estate planning options give me a call, Russ Pike, at 503.888.0952 to arrange a free consultation.

 

Who should I name as Beneficiary of my retirement plan?

If you are near or at retirement, your 401K plan, 403b plan or an IRA may be one of your largest assets. As you contributed to your retirement plan you were able to defer then current income taxes. Now that you are retired, as you drawn down you plan through required minimum distributions, you discover that 100% of what is withdrawn is subject to income taxes. While you are forced to take the required minimum withdrawal once you are 70 ½, there are ways to minimize taxes to the beneficiary of your IRA after you die. But the tax deferral benefits will only be available if you properly plan while you are alive.

You have many choices in naming a beneficiary for your IRA depending on your situation and goals. You can name as a beneficiary:

  • Your spouse;
  • A child or children;
  • Grandchildren;
  • A Trust;
  • A Charity or church; or
  • A combination of spouse, child, grandchild, trust or charity.

You can set up a beneficiary so that the funds can remain in the IRA over the longest possible time and continue to defer taxes on the principal and income. Alternatively, you may want to place the fund in a Trust for that person who cannot handle the funds all at once.  You may not want to leave your retirement plan to a person, but instead name a charity or church. Whatever decision you make as to your beneficiary, you will have to consider the effect of taxes as well as the non-tax factors of your particular situation.

Do not forget that if you name a person as the primary beneficiary, just like life insurance, you need to name a contingent beneficiary just in case your primary beneficiary dies before you.  This is important because if you fail to name a contingent, your estate may become the beneficiary and this is usually the worst possible situation for taxes.

There is no black and white correct answer on how to name your beneficiary for your IRA account. This is the one area of estate planning that requires the assistance of a CPA or estate planning attorney simply because it is complicated and can result in a significant tax if not done correctly. Not only do you have to consider the income tax effect on your beneficiaries, but your retirement plan transfer must be balanced with your overall estate value and the consequences of estate tax.

If you are one of the many Americans who have an IRA that is a large part of their assets and would like to discuss your situation and options, give me a call, Russ Pike, at 503.888.0952 to schedule a free consultation.

 

How Can I Name a Guardian for my children in Oregon?

What happens if you and your spouse both die at the same time? You leave your daughter with a baby sitter when the two of you go to dinner and a movie. As you leave the movie and are driving home an oncoming car crosses the center divider and crashed head on into your car. You are killed instantly and your wife is rushed to the hospital in a coma which a week later she is still in the coma.  What happened to your daughter staying with the baby sitter?

In Oregon only the Court can appoint a Guardian. However, in your Will you can name both a Guardian for the care of you child and a conservator for handling finances for your child.  A Court will generally appoint the person you have named.Back to the accident. You have provided for a Guardian and the document is available for authorities. The authorities will contact the individual and your child will be placed in their custody pending a Court hearing to make the appointment.  You did not provide for a Guardian. The babysitter is willing to keep your child until a Court can name a Guardian. However, the babysitter is not 21, so your child is placed in care until a Court hears the matter.

As part of your estate plan, you will want to name a Guardian if you have minor children. Think about this decision since this is the person who step in your shoes to raise your child. After you have reached a decision, talk with the person selected to see if they are willing to accept the responsibility. Will they follow your instructions, even if that is not the way they would raise your child?

If you would like to discuss your estate planning options, including Guardianship and Conservatorship for your children, give me, Russ Pike, a call at 503.888.0952 to schedule a free consultation and to get all your questions answered.

 

How do I get started with my Oregon Will or Trust estate planning?

Getting Started

I am often asked how I get started with my Last Will and Testament or Trust estate planning.  I make the process as easy and simple as possible for you. Here is the sequence of how you get started;

Schedule a Free Consultation

Pick up the phone and schedule your free consultation to discuss your specific situation, learn estate planning options, and get all you questions answered.

Read “Estate Planning for the Not Yet Wealthy”

Prior to or at your free consultation I will give you a copy of my book, “Estate Planning for the Not Yet Wealthy.”  This book will answer many of your questions and provide an understanding of the estate planning process.

Fact Finding

We will discuss you specific situation. What are your goals, values, special situations?  What would you like to accomplish.

Assets and Liabilities

Next we will identify what you have, who you owe money to, and who owes you money.  How are your assets titled and who are the current beneficiaries.

Decision Makers

We will discuss who you want to make decisions and manage assets for you when you cannot make those decisions. Who do you want to be the Guardian of your children? Who will manage your children’s finances?  Who would you want to handle your or your spouse’s finances if you cannot do so?  Who do you want to make financial decisions if you cannot do so?  Who do you want to make medical decisions for you when you are unable to make those decisions?

Special Needs

Do you have special needs such as a family member with an addiction, a child who receives government benefits, a child who cannot manage their finances, or a pending divorce affecting a family member?

How does the estate planning process work?

How long does it take?

The process from start to finish of designing you estate plan documents, whether it is a Will plan or Trust plan,  should take no more than ten days to two weeks once you have had your free consultation and authorized us to start work.

Final Document Review

There will be a meeting where your documents will be explained.  A notary and two witnesses will assist with the execution of your estate planning documents.

Estate Planning Portfolio and Instructions

You will be provided all your executed documents in a bound Portfolio for safe keeping. You will also be given instructions necessary to either fund a Trust or keeping your documents up to date.

Funding of Your Trust

If you have a Trust estate plan, how to fund your Trust and title assets will be discussed and you can fund your Trust or hire us to do it for you.

The estate planning process does not have to be complicated. Give me a call, Russ Pike, at 503.888.0952 to schedule a free consultation and get all your questions answered.

 

How does the estate planning process work?

The process from start to finish of designing you estate plan documents, whether it is a Will plan or Trust plan,  should take no more than two weeks once you have had your free consultation, completed the fact gathering questionnaire, and authorized us to start work. The steps in the process are;

  • Complete a fact gathering-questionnaire and review my book on “Estate Planning for the Not Yet Wealthy.”
  • An initial meeting where your facts and needs are reviewed with Russ Pike who based on your situation, values, and goals will then make recommendations on planning strategies for your Oregon estate plan.
  • You and your attorney will select either a Will or Trust estate planning strategy and you will be given a fix fee quote for your approval.
  • Preparation of you Will or Trust estate planning documents.
  • Meeting to review final documents and approve documents. There will be a meeting with a notary and two witnesses to execute you estate planning documents. You will be provided with an estate planning portfolio and instructions.
  • If you have a Trust estate plan, funding of your Trust will be discussed and you can fund your Trust or hire us to do it for you.

 

If you are looking for an experienced Salem Oregon Estate Planning Attorney, whether you need a Will or Trust plan, I can help. I have been serving Salem Oregon since 1985. Call for a free consultation at 503.888.0952.

I recently got divorced. Do I need to review my current estate plan?

When going through a divorce people are stressed, emotional, and often do not think clearly. The last thing on their mind is should I update my estate plan. However, think about it, you whole live is changing. Not only are your relationships changed, but your assets, liabilities, and obligations have changed. Divorce results in a fresh start for individuals. Relationships are changed.  All of these changes are significant, but they also require that you create an estate plan or review and update your existing estate plan. Simple, new circumstance equals new estate plan.

Some of the changes your need to consider if you are recently divorced are:

  • Removing you ex-spouse as the trustee on any trust;
  • Naming a new agent in your Power of Attorney to handle your finances if you become disabled;
  • Who do you want to name as your Personal Representative of your estate;
  • Who is going to make medical decisions for you when you cannot make those decisions; and
  • Review and change beneficiaries on all accounts that have beneficiary designations;

The following documents need to be created or revised:

  • Revocable Living Trust;
  • Last Will and Testament;
  • Power of Attorney;
  • Oregon Advance Health Care Directive;
  • HIPAA Waiver and Release; and
  • Any Protective Trust for any minor children.

If you are going through or just completed a divorce and would like an objective review of your existing documents or need to prepare new documents and would like to have all your questions answered, give me, Russ Pike, a call now at 503.888.0952.

 

What is the goal of an Oregon Revocable Living Trust?

When you select Trust estate planning there are usually two documents needed:

  • Revocable Trust; and
  • Pour Over Will.

 During your lifetime a Trust is usually revocable and can be changed or terminated. You put your assets in the Trust and select a Trustee to manage the Trust. Once you die the Trust becomes irrevocable and the assets are managed and distributed as you have directed in the Trust document.

You also create a Pour Over Will. During your lifetime it is likely that you will acquire assets that you forget to put into your Trust. The Pour Over Will collects those assets and through the Probate Court those assets are distributed to your Trust.

Why Put Your Assets in a Revocable Living Trust?

  • Avoid Probate for incapacity;
  • Avoid Probate when you die;
  • Reduce the cost of transferring assets on your death;
  • Keep you financial affairs private at the time of death; and
  • Minimize taxes; and
  • Make a quick transfer of assets at death.

If you would like to achieve any of these benefits, pick up the phone and give me a call, Russ Pike, at 503.888.0952 to get your questions answered during your free consultation.

 

What questions should you ask in choosing your Salem-Portland estate planning attorney?

If you are just starting to think about your Oregon estate planning you are probably asking, how I choose an estate planning attorney. Here is a list of questions to ask before committing to an estate planning attorney for your Will or Trust plan. Ask us these questions. You will be pleased with the answers and you can be confident in your estate plan.

• Do you concentrate in the practice of trusts and estates, including estate planning, estate administration, and estate litigation? YES.
• Do you possess a broad range of experience and knowledge relating to trusts and estates? YES. SERVING OREGON AND WASHINGTON SINCE 1985.
• How many years have you practiced? 30 PLUS
• What percentage of your practice is devoted to estate planning? 100%
• Can you handle complex taxable estates? YES.
• Do you charge for an initial consultation? NO.
• Can I expect to receive draft estate planning documents for my review within a reasonable time of authorizing you to proceed with my project? YES. USUALLY WITHIN 10 DAYS TO 2 WEEKS.
• If I decide to implement a revocable living trust, will you assist me in re-titling my assets into the trust and in preparing any new deeds I may need? YOU CAN DO IT OR HIRE US TO DO IT FOR YOU.
• Have you written any books or special reports on estate planning? YES. “ESTATE PLANNING FOR THE NOT YET WEALTHY.” A NEW BOOK “ESTATE PLANNING FOR THE BUSINESS OWNER” IS CURRENTLY IN DRAFT.
• After determining the scope of my estate planning project, will you quote me a fixed fee for your legal services? YOU WILL BE PROVIDE AN EXACT FEE AND ONLY AFTER YOUR AGREEMENT TO THE FEE WILL YOU PLAN BE PREPARED.
• If a member of my family dies, can you assist me in settling his or her estate? YES. WE ALSO DO PROBATE ADMINISTRATION LEGAL SERVICE AS WELL AS REPRESENTING TRUSTEES.

If you are looking for an experienced Estate Planning Attorney in Portland and Salem Oregon and surrounding cites, I can help. I have been serving Portland and Salem Oregon and the surrounding areas since 1985. Call for a free consultation at 503.888.0952.

As the Personal Representative of My Husband’s Oregon Estate can I be held personally liable?

Yes.  Being a Personal Representative requires a high standard of conduct called a fiduciary standard. As a personal representative you will be under the Probate Court’s supervision.  In your position as a personal representative who have an obligation to gather and protect all assets of the deceased person, an obligation to creditors for payment of claims, an obligation to heirs, and responsibility for payment of taxes. The Probate Court will oversee your actions, require that your follow the Probate Court rules, review proposed actions and if approved, issue orders so you can carry out your duty.

How can you as a Personal Representative be personally liable?

  • Failing to obtain Probate Court approval before taking action;
  • Failing to secure and protect all assets;
  • Failing to file necessary tax returns;
  • Failing to pay taxes due;
  • Allowing insurance on certain property and damage occurring to uninsured property;
  • Failing to pay legitimate claims when presented in Probate Court;
  • If there are investments, such as brokerage accounts or IRAs improper investment of those funds during Probate; and
  • Distributing assets before obtaining a Probate Court order can lead to liability.

Probate estate administration is a formal Court process. Before you accept appointment as a Personal Representative, make sure you have the qualifications to handle the financial and legal responsibility. In addition, realize that it will take a significant amount of time over the next year or longer. Do you have the time to devote to handling the estate?

If you would like to discuss the Probate process and responsibilities of a Personal Representative, give me, Russ Pike, a call at 503.888.0952 to arrange a free consultation to get all your questions answered.

 

Why Should I Avoid Probate?

The reasons to avoid Probate are simple:

  • Probate is a public process that tells the world what you have, who you owe, and who is going to get what;
  • Probate takes a long time before your heirs get anything. Oregon Probate can run more than a year; and
  • Probate is expensive. Plan on paying 2-7% of the value of the estate to complete the Probate process. It can cost even more if you end up in litigation over claims, the validity of the Will, or challenges from heirs.

There are alternatives to Probate. If you would like to find out what those alternatives are and get all you questions answered, call me, Russ Pike, at 503.888.0952 to schedule a free consultation.

 

Does a Will Avoid Probate in Oregon?

A Will does not avoid Probate.  However, some assets avoid Probate Court even if a Will is in place. The following assets can be transferred at your death without going through Probate:

  • Real estate held as joint tenants with right of survivorship or tenants by the entirety;
  • Property with beneficiary designations such as 401K, IRA, brokerage accounts, savings accounts and checking accounts;
  • Property transferred with a Pay on Death designation;
  • Life Insurance policies which designate beneficiaries; and
  • Joint bank accounts;

If there is a conflict between a beneficiary designation and your Will, the beneficiary designation will control For example, if you brokerage account names you son as the beneficiary and you Will leaves the brokerage account to your daughter, upon your death the brokerage account goes to your son.

If you would like to discuss your situation and how Probate or Probate avoidance may be appropriate in your specific situation, give me a call, Russ Pike, at 503.888.0952 to schedule a free consultation.

 

I am the executor to my wife’s estate, what does an Oregon executor or personal representative do?

Whether it is at the time of planning or at the time of someone’s death, Probate, is a subject people always want to address when they discuss planning or handling someone’s death.  They have always heard that they should want to avoid Probate.  Actually, in Oregon, the Probate process can be complicated, lengthy, and costly, but it is not nearly as bad as in some other states.

If you have been appointed the Personal Representative in a deceased person’s Will or the deceased person died without a Will and you want to be appointed as a Personal Representative of the estate, then you will have to file a pleading with the Probate Court to be appointed as the Personal Representative.

One of the first things that will need to be done, if there is a Will, is to get the Will validated by the Court.  As the Personal Representative you will have duties outside of and in the Probate Court. Those duties include:

  • Gathering all documents of the deceased so that you can identify creditors, debtors, beneficiaries, online accounts, banks, savings accounts, brokerage accounts, 401K, IRA and other retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and any other parties with an interest that the deceased may have had;
  • Identifying and securing all assets of the deceased;
  • Submit the asset inventory to the Court;
  • Working with digital asset and online accounts to either transfer control, or delete the accounts;
  • Identifying and providing notice to file claims to any creditors;
  • Identifying and collecting any debts owed to the decadent;
  • Submitting claims to any life insurance companies;
  • Notifying retirement account administrators of the decedents death;
  • Provide to the Probate Court an accounting for all expenses of the estate for Court approval;
    • Oversee the preparation of tax returns;
    • Paying all taxes due from the estate assets; and
    • Obtain a federal tax identification number from the IRS for the estate.

Should you avoid Probate?  It depends. If you are at the planning stage and would like to discuss your options with a free consultation, give me, Russ Pike, a call at 503.888.0952.  If a loved one passed away and you need help with Probate, I can help.

 

Why can’t I wait until I am older to do my Will or Trust Estate Plan?

I have seen the loss of two parents, grandparents, friends, and colleagues. Not one of them knew when they would die. The age at which they died ranged from 21 to 92.  Assume that just about covers the range of ages when someone will die, you probably have no idea where in that range you will be when you die. If you die without an estate plan, your family and loved ones will be in the same bad situation whether you die at 21 or 92.

I am one of the world’s champion procrastinators. We all are procrastinators when we are faced with discussing our own incapacity or death.  We think about growing old and dying from old age. But what if we are in a fatal car accident, get hit with a baseball and suffer brain damage, fall down a stairs and lose our capacity, or are afflicted with early onset dementia.  By doing your estate plan today you have a plan to take care of your financial and health decisions when you cannot do it. You plan will include:

  • Naming a decision maker to make financial decisions for you when you are unable to do so;
  • Selecting a person to make medical decisions and carry out your end of life wishes;
  • Have a person you know and trust handle you property when you die that you know will protect your assets and transfer them as you want;
  • If you use a Trust, avoid the time, cost and public scrutiny of Probate;
  • Protect you family and loved ones that need protection after inheriting wealth from their creditors, scam artist or even losing their inheritance due to divorce;
  • For those who cannot manage their finances because they are minors, incapacitated , or just reckless with money, leave property in trust to be managed for their benefit;
  • Name a Guardian for you minor children in case you die before they become adults;
  • Set up a plan that includes tax planning to provide more assets to your family and not the government; and
  • Make your wishes known so that your family and loved ones don’t fight over what is left behind and aren’t at each other’s throats.

Over the years I have seen the consequences of a good estate plan and how estates are settled when there is no plan. It is easy to guess which situation provides for an orderly transition of wealth and family harmony. If you are ready to explore your options to put a plan in place for your family, give me a call, Russ Pike, at 503.888.0952 to schedule your free consultation to discuss you goals.

 

 

Why work with Pike Legal?

Here are the top 10 reasons to hire Pike-Legal.

  • Over 30 years legal experience;
  • Free initial consultation, not rushed, all your questions answered;
  • Preparation of estate plans for taxable estates and more moderate estates;
  • I listen. Fact finding to determine not only your assets and liabilities, but you values, goals, family, and special situations before we even consider an estate plan for you;
  • Fixed fee planning. Once you decide on the plan you want, you will be quoted a fee in advance, no surprises;
  • Personal service at an at affordable price;
  • Whether you want to meet at your office, living facility, home or other location, we come to you;
  • When can you find time to plan? Evening or weekend appointments are accepted;
  • You will have all of your final documents explained to you so you know exactly what each document does and when to use it;
  • If you use a Trust you will be provided with funding instructions or you can hire us to complete funding of your Trust.

 No fancy office, no large parking lot, no art on the wall. Just experience and knowledge of estate planning. Estate planning and Probate is all I do.  If you want to discuss your options and get your questions answered take advantage of a free consultation. Call me, Russ Pike, at 503.888.0952 to schedule your free consultation.

Do we need an Oregon Will or Trust plan if we are married and have no children?

Is there any reason to have a Will or Trust in Oregon if you do not have children? The reality is even without children you will have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and parents. Do you want to transfer your wealth at death to those people you select to to those people the State of Oregon selects for you? You may have a nephew that you have not talked with in years and would never leave anything to, but because you did not plan, others who may be first in line predecease you, all your property may go to that disliked nephew.

If you have no children, you may want to leave money to your favorite charity. You might also have a dog or cat that would have an unknown future if they outlive you. You can take care of charity and your pet if you plan.

An estate plan will allow you to select your decision makers if you suffer that unexpected disability and incapacity. Just because you do not have children, does not mean that mental or physical incapacity will not happen during your lifetime. Moreover, who is going to make end of life treatment decisions for you? Wouldn’t you rather have someone you know and trust to make decisions in line with your wishes?

If you would like to discuss your special needs, your wishes, and what your options are to accomplish your goals, give me, Russ Pike a call at 503.888.0952 and schedule a free consultation.

 

I am in a second marriage and have children from my first marriage, what do I need to do for my estate planning?

Today a large percentage of the population is in a second or third marriage. There are variations on how these marriages are structured from one spouse with children from a prior marriage, both spouses with children from a prior marriage, and children from prior and current marriages. If you are in this situation you need a plan designed to meet your unique needs.

Second marriage couples often ask how they can protect their children from the first marriage if they are the first to die. While spouses are trusting, many times the surviving spouse remarries, dies first, and leaves assets to his or her new spouse who doesn’t know your children. This is not the result most parents want and with proper planning it can be prevented.

I have seen these issues many times and can develop a plan to solve them that meets your specific needs.  At every step of the process, you can be certain that I will be personally involved in creating your estate plan.  You will be given options and I will explain to you the various choices for you to decide how to create the optimal estate plan for you and your second and first family.

If you are in a blended family and would like to learn all the issues you may be facing and how to solve those issues so that your current family and children from prior marriages are protected, give me, Russ Pike, a call at 503.888.0952 to schedule a free consultation.

 

 

I am planning on getting remarried, what can I do to protect myself, my new spouse, and my children?

A second or third marriage can create unique challenges for estate planning. Although both future spouses have the best of intentions, what will happen when the first spouse dies to protect children from the first marriage may be different from what you thought would happen.  The time to start planning is before your second marriage. I know it is hard to discuss finances, assets, and what happens if you die when you are in love and about to be married, but it needs to be done to protect your children’s inheritance.  Here are some suggestions for pre-marital planning to protect your loved ones.

  • Get a prenuptial agreement. This is very common today and should not be a problem with your future spouse. This agreement should cover your current assets and how the assets will be handled during marriage.
  • Consider a Real Estate Trust. This will document that the surviving spouse has a life estate in the family residence regardless of the contribution to pay for the home.
  • Provide a Limited Power of Attorney. This should cover decision making in the case of incapacity over finances.
  • Establish a Trust. Provide for income to the surviving spouse, but leave the remainder assets to your children on your death. Provide income for your surviving second spouse while alive. Consider all the things that could go wrong after your death such as excessive spending, remarriage, divorce by married children, frivolous lawsuits, bankruptcies, addictions, and scams.
  • In Oregon you cannot disinherit your spouse. Discuss whether you and your spouse want to waive the Oregon Spousal Share.
  • Keep you marital and non-marital assets separate.
  • Keep your non-marital assets titled in your own name. If you want your separate property to remain separate, do not comingle assets.
  • Keep detailed records of the value of your non-marital and marital assets.

If are contemplating a second or third marriage and would like to discuss issues involved in planning for that marriage and protecting your children, give me a call, Russ Pike, at 503.888.0952 for a free consultation.

 

In Oregon can my Will or Trust estate plan disinherit my spouse?

No. Oregon has a Spousal Elective Share law that provides that a spouse must receive a certain percentage of the augmented estate upon his or her spouse’s death.  Depending on how long you have been married, your spouse is entitled to a percentage of your estate. If you have been married 15 or more years your spouse is going to get one-third.

Can you waive your spousal share?  Yes. By a writing a spouse can waive his or her spousal share.  Most estate plans are designed to leave everything to your spouse on the first death. However, there may be a circumstance where that is not what a husband and wife want. For example, second marriage often raise the issue of the spousal elective share.  Assume both husband and wife have children from a previous marriage.  Both husband and wife want to leave their property to their children from their prior marriages.  The solution may be to provide for income and use of the personal residence of the lifetime of the surviving spouse, but everything else is left to your children from the prior marriage.

Waiver of the spousal share can occur at any time. However, the best time to have this discussion is prior to the second marriage.

If you are considering waiver your spousal share or would like your spouse to waive their spousal share you should schedule a free consultation to discuss the spousal share, waiver, and ramifications. Give me, Russ Pike, a call at 503.888.0952 to arrange a free consultation.

 

In Oregon what are the Estate Planning problems every second marriage faces?

Whether your new family is the Brady Bunch, the Modern Family, the Jeffersons, the Trumps or the Clintons, a second marriage with or without children from one, two or three marriages present many problems and challenges. What are some of those challenges when it comes to estate planning?

  • Avoiding disinheriting your children;
  • How to divide assets to be fair to your current spouse, your children from either marriage, and stepchildren;
  • How to provide for the surviving spouse and still pass assets to your children on the second death;
  • Minimizing taxes without disinheriting your children at the time of your death; and
  • Leave assets to diverse groups-prior marriage children, current marriage children, step children, and current husband while preventing inter family squabbles and fights.

Would you like to discuss some of these challenges? If so call me, Russ Pike, at 503.888.0952 for a free consultation to get all your questions answered and maybe discover some new issues you had not considered.

 

What is an Oregon Health Care Directive?

An Oregon Advance Medical Health Care Directive to be effective must comply with Oregon law.  This is a document that allows you to appoint a decision maker for your health care decisions when you are not in a condition that you can make those decisions. In addition, you have an opportunity to document how you want doctors and hospitals to treat you at end of life. You get to tell your family and doctors what to do for those difficult end of life decisions.  I have sat in hospitals with families of clients when these end of life care decisions have to be made. They are emotional decisions often accompanied by tears. However, the decisions are easier on your loved ones if you have prepare an Oregon Advance Medical Health Care Directive and your loved one knows that he or she is doing what you wanted.  Take the time to document your wishes to ease the burden on your loved one making the decision.

An Oregon Advance Medical Directive is just part of any comprehensive estate plan. If you would like to discuss you special situation and have all your questions answered, pick up the phone and give me, Russ Pike, a call at 503.888.0952 for a free consultation.

 

What makes up Oregon estate?

The short answer is: Everything that your own at the time of death. What is included? Here are some, but not all the assets included in your estate:

  • Real estate;
  • Personal property;
  • Time shares;
  • Bank accounts;
  • Brokerage accounts;
  • Personal Residence;
  • Life Insurance Policy;
  • Annuity;
  • Jewelry;
  • Art Collections;
  • Sports card collections; and
  • Part ownership interest in a business or rental property.

Any interest in any asset will be part of your estate. Why do you want to plan to reduce items in your estate? Whatever is in your estate at death determines the value of your estate. The value of your estate is what the Oregon Department of Revenue and the IRS use to determine how much tax your estate needs to pay.  There are ways to reduce your estate size without giving up income while you are alive.

If you want to explore your options, call me, Russ Pike, at 503.888.0952 to schedule a free consultation.

 

What should I consider in selecting a Guardian for my children?

A better question might be what does not need to be considered when selecting a Guardian for your children. Any and everything that might affect your children’s well-being is important. Think about it, you are choosing someone to step into your shoes as a parent and raise your children. They can never do as good as job as you can, but you want them to be able to come close to being as good a parent as you. This decision will affect your children’s lives not only while they are growing up, but also how they function as adults. You cannot be too careful in naming a Guardian for your children. When selecting a Guardian you have to consider personal, financial, religious, and emotional issues.

People I talk with often get confused about what a Guardian is in Oregon. An Oregon Guardian is the person who will raise your children. They responsible for the physical and emotional needs of your children. They will see that they receive medical care and dental care. They will raise your children.

In contrast a Conservator is a person who will be responsible to manage the money and other assets you left for children’s welfare. Sometimes the person you want to raise your children may have money management problems, or other issues that would warrant appointment of a different person as a Guardian.

Sounds easy enough. How do I select someone to take my place? Think about what kind of parent you are. Do you have short comings, are you the perfect parent. Maybe so, maybe not. Put your replacement on a pedestal. Identify what that perfect parent to raise your children would be like.  After you have identified the perfect replacement parent ask yourself some practical questions:

  • How old is your perfect parent;
  • Where do they live, would the children have to move;
  • Is he or she in a stable marital relationship;
  • Is he or she financially sound;
  • Does he or she have children of their own, how old, would your children get along with them; and
  • What do you want to happen to your children if your perfect guardian should get divorced.

When you start down this road you will think of many more things that are important to you. It is better to cover all the bases, than to leave issues open.

Now that you have identified the perfect parent, what next.  Do it again. Yes, that is right do it again. What if something happens to that perfect parent, they die prematurely, they become incapacitated, they decide they don’t want to be the perfect parent even though they have told you they would be there for your children. Always have a backup and document that back up in your Will.

Even though you have selected a family member or a best friend, don’t assume they are willing to accept the responsibility for raising your children. Don’t forget, if someone were to ask you to raise their children, you may want to exercise your right to refuse. After all, this is not like saying I will take care of your puppy if something happens to you. This is a lifetime commitment. When you have this discussion you will have to be open. Open as to why you selected this person, how you want your children raised, where the money to raise your children will be coming from, and how a college education will be funded.

Over the years, I have seen parents go through the process of identifying the person they want to raise their children, only to be turned down by the person they have selected. There are a lot of reasons for not wanting to raise someone else’s children, lack of time for more children, age, physical condition, or a desire not to accept the enormous responsibility.

Once you have had the discussion with your first and alternate Guardians and they have agreed to assume the responsibility if something should happen to you, you need to make it legal. You may have a couple in mind, but name only one person as the Guardian. In Oregon, that is in your Last Will and Testament. As stated, the Court will have the final say, but more than likely, the Court will appoint the person you have selected.

You have selected a Guardian, you have selected a backup, and you have made it legal. Are you done?  No.

It is your responsibility to keep a letter of instruction that is updated as your children grow and mature. You want to identify their likes, dislikes, religion, special conditions, allergies, and any other thing you would want to know as a parent.

Just as you can change your Will, Trust, Power of Attorney or Advance Directive, you can change your choice of Guardian. People change over time. Your children change over time. The person who was the best choice in 2016 may not be the best choice in 2020.  Review you choice every 4-5 years or when there are major life changes with your children or your Guardian choice. You want the best choice on the date your die.

Don’t leave the choice of Guardian to chance. If you would like to discuss in detail the issues and options for selecting a Guardian and Conservator of the children, pick up the phone and give me, Russ Pike, a call at 503.888.0952 for your free consultation.

 

What will it cost for an Oregon Will or Trust plan?

Cost is in everyone’s mind, whether it is a new car, life insurance, a new home, groceries or gas prices. In this day and age of high taxes, inflation, and no wage growth, cost is more important than ever. I have been serving Oregon since 1985. Over the years I have seen individuals and families in the Salem-Portland Oregon area fail to plan for their families because of the cost.

No one wants to talk about death or incapacity. In fact, I am an estate planning attorney and I don’t like to talk about my own death or possible incapacity. But the truth is, you cannot afford not to have a Will or Trust plan. Without a Will or Trust plan your family will have more chaos, stress, fights, arguments and it will cost them a lot more when you pass away. We try to make your estate planning reasonable. It is less costly to plan now rather than pay high fees and expenses when someone dies or becomes incapacitated and your failed to plan. While every situation is different most of our Will or Trust packages for a couple start at $1,200 and $2,500 respectively. Once you specific needs are determined you will be quoted a specific price for your plan before the work is started. Remember you are paying for experience and knowledge, not just documents.

If you are looking for an experienced Portland Oregon and Salem Oregon Estate Planning Attorney at an affordable price, I can help. I have been serving Portland  Oregon and Salem Oregon since 1985. Call for a free consultation at 503.888.0952.

What will happen to my dog when I die?

If you are like me, you treat your pets as your children. When I help others plan for their pets, I realize how much my pets are treated like my kids and exactly how they affect my life. For example, I do the following things for my pets, do you

  • Plan vacations;
  • Take them to the groomers;
  • Take them to the vets;
  • Feed them;
  • Walk with them;
  • Give them treats;
  • Buy them toys;
  • Train them for good behavior;
  • Let them sleep in my bed; and
  • Cuddle with them on my lap when I set in my recliner.

Did you ever stop to think what would happen to your dog, cat or other pet if an automobile accident took your life today?  Most of us haven’t thought about it. However, our pets would be totally helpless if we did not come home tonight.

If you do not plan, what will happen to your pet? If you  surfer a major illness, incapacity or even die while your pet is alive, just as you need to plan ahead for how you want your assets to be distributed to your heirs, you must plan how your pet will be taken care of after you unable to care for them.

There is no one size fits all estate plan for humans. Dogs, cats and other pets are also unique. You need a pet care plan that meet the special circumstances of your pet.

In Oregon we are fortunate that the law recognizes Pet Trusts. Using a Pet Trust we can not only provide for care of our pets, but we can set aside money that we know will be used to care for our pet after we are gone.  Further, using a Pet Trust, we can leave money for care of our pet, and if any money is left after our pet dies, we can name the person who will receive the remaining money.

We all love our dogs and cats. Just look at how we act if our Fido or Fluffy dies before we do. We mope and cry for days or even weeks. By planning ahead, you can provide Fido or Fluffy a full and long life after you are gone. If you would like to discuss your options for Fido or Fluffy, give me a call, Russ Pike, at 503.888.0952 for a free consultation to get all your questions answered.

 

In My Oregon Pet Trust How Much Money Should I Leave For My Pets?

Clients want to know, how much is enough to leave for the care of my pet after I die?  There is no right answer and many factors will come into play. Those factors include:

  • What is the age of your pet;
  • Is your pet in good, average or poor health:
  • Does your pet have any special conditions that might require an unusually high amount to treat;
  • Does your pet have a special diet; and
  • Will the person taking care of your pet have to leave them in day care each day?

Although we have all heard stories of wealthy individuals who have left millions for their pets, and little for their children. Realistically, for most situations in Oregon, you can provide the care needed for your pet by leaving $6,000 to $10,000 to be placed in trust for your pet.  Remember, any remaining funds can be distributed to the person that you have named to receive it in the Pet Trust.  You may know at least one person who will care for and love your pet if you are no longer around to do so.  Providing funds for that care through a Pet Trust can give you peace of mind that your pets, Daisy and Duchess, will survive your death or disability.

If you are concerned with your estate planning and in particular how you can provide for you pets, talk to an attorney with two dogs of his own with similar concerns. Call me, Russ Pike, at 503.888.0952 for a free consultation to get all your questions answered.

 

Do I Need To Name A Caretaker For My Pet In My Will Or Trust?

Many people I meet worry about what will happen to their beloved dog or cat if they outlive their pet. There is a way to plan ahead so you’re your pet is taken care of if you outline him or her.

Two things are important. Who is going to take care of you pet? Let’s call this person the caretaker. Just as in Oregon we have a guardian for a minor child you will need to select a caretaker. Next we consider money. Money to provide for the needs of your pet such as food, shelter, medical care, costs when the caretaker takes a vacation, toys, check-ups, and doggy or cat daycare.  In Oregon we have a conservator who handles the money for a minor child. Similarly, you want to think about you will handle the money to care for your pet’s needs.  The caregiver and the person handling the money can be the same person or it can be two different people.  Sometimes a person would be a great caregiver, but not a good money manager.  These are things you need to think about when considering how your pet will be taken care of when you are not here to care for him or her.

One method of achieving your goal of providing for the care of your pet is to establish and Oregon Pet Trust. Oregon has a specific law which covers Pet Trusts. With a Pet Trust, you leave an amount of money in Trust to be managed by a Trustee that you select, for the long term care of your Pet. In your Pet Trust you can also name the caretaker for your pet and provide specific instructions regarding care for your pet and how the Trustee distributes money for that care. You Trust can be as specific as you want on the standard of care for your pet. Also, if you Pet passes away before the money in the Trust is spent, you can instructions as to who is to receive any balance of funds.

Just like a trust for your property to provide for the care of your children after you die needs a backup trustee, you need to name a backup trustee or a successor as it is legally called, for your Pet Trust.  If your caregiver is not also your Trustee, you should consider naming a backup for that person.  Most people look to family and friends when trying to decide who will take care of their pet. You might want to leave your pet with them for a week, to make sure it is going to work, before you make them the caregiver.

While naming a Trustee for your Pet Trust and a caretaker for your pet is important, don’t forget to plan for immediate action to protect your pet when you die or become incapacitated. It may take someone a while to locate all you planning documents and instructions. In the meantime your pet needs to be taken care of now. Make sure you leave a letter of instruction for temporary emergency care and let the people who will be responsible know of your wishes and give them a copy of the letter of instruction.

Only you can make sure your pet is taken care of when you die. While a sister or brother may say they will care for your pet, once they realized the costs of caring for a pet, they may change their mind after you are gone. Leaving adequate money in a Pet Trust will help insure that someone you select will care for your pet throughout their life.

If you have a dog, cat or other pet that is important to you and you are concerned what will happen if your pet(s) outlive you, give an attorney who has two dogs, Daisy and Duchess, and has the same concerns that your do, Russ Pike, at 503.888.0952 to schedule a free consultation to have all your questions answered.The first step in deciding how to care for your pets after you have gone is to determine who will be the caretaker of your pets. This is the person who will provide the home where they live and the care they require.

 

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