If you have a family, you need an estate plan. It is about much more than passing on money, business, or property. An estate plan makes everything easier for those you love when something happens to you.
That doesn’t mean that it has to be complicated or involved. It may simply involve a will and an advance directive should you be comatose or otherwise incapacitated. You may have a lot of assets which you would like to pass on or given to a charity. But in all cases, making your wishes known is essential, and the plan you develop should be as unique as you.
Where to start
In all cases, a basic will and a “living will” or advance directive is essential for everyone. Without a will, the disposition of your property after your death is more complicated under Oregon law. It means that your surviving spouse or children will have much more that they have to take care of even as they grieve your passing.
An advance directive is also essential if you do not want unnecessary measures taken to prolong your life in case you are incapacitated. It is also a critical starting point for all estate plans. Making your wishes known in a document that has legal standing only makes it much easier for your family should something happen to you.
New federal laws
Due to recent changes in federal law, anyone with a large estate needs to review and probably revamp their existing estate plan. It has been necessary in the past to set up trusts and other systems for the purpose of avoiding federal taxes which are no longer necessary.
Oregon law has not changed, however. Given that there is a 16% Oregon “estate transfer tax” tax on all assets over $1 million there are still many reasons why one of many kinds of trusts should be considered. The change in federal law did lift the taxes on gifts to family members, however, and these are still not taxed unders state law. This is one of many considerations which may be new when considering your estate.
What is right for you?
There is never any “one size fits all” approach to estate planning. If you have a very basic plan or one that was developed many years ago, it’s vital that it be reviewed.
Your life may have changed as have many legal considerations. With an estate plan that recognizes both of these you can be assured that even in the worst of times for your family they will be taken care of properly.