You’ve decided to tackle your estate plan, or you’re dealing with probate or a trust, and now you need to find an Oregon estate planning attorney. Estate planning is an important matter that will impact not only your future but also the future of your loved ones, so you shouldn’t rush into decisions. Take time to find the right attorney for your needs.
Where to Find Oregon Estate Planning Attorneys
Before you can compare estate planning attorneys, you need to find them. Aside from opening open the Yellow Pages or searching on Google, there are several ways to find lawyers who might be a good fit for your needs.
- There’s a good chance that some of the people you know have already dealt with estate planning and probate. Ask your friends and family if they can recommend an estate planning law firm in your area.
- Best Lawyers. Every year, Best Lawyers publishes a list of outstanding lawyers. The list is peer-reviewed and widely recognized as a reliable and unbiased referral. You can use the Best Lawyers website to search for lawyers by location and practice area.
- American Bar Association Lawyer Referral Directory. You can enter your location in the ABA Lawyer Referral Directory to find local bar associations and request referrals.
Vetting Estate Planning Attorneys
Once you’ve identified some attorneys, you need to determine which ones are a good match for your needs.
Reviews and referrals are important. Anyone can put out an ad saying that they’re the best, but for something as important as estate planning, you need to make sure you’ll be in good hands. Check for unbiased reviews and referrals. Testimonials can also provide insight into what you can expect from an estate planning lawyer.
Also make sure the estate planning lawyer you’re considering has expertise in the right practice area. Attorneys can specialize in many different areas of law, and there’s a world of difference between criminal law, estate law, contract law, divorce law and other specialties.
Even within the broad category of estate law, there are multiple services that you may require, such as family wealth planning, business succession planning, charitable planning and trust administration.
You need an expert lawyer who can assist clients on the ins and outs of estate planning. Make sure the estate planning attorney you’re considering can provide all of the services you need.
What to Look For if You Want to Plan Your Estate
Wills are an important cornerstone of estate planning. When crafting your will, an experienced estate planning attorney can help ensure that you’re including all the terms and clauses needed to make sure your wishes are carried out and to help you reach your estate planning goals.
Depending on your situation, you may need to secure life insurance and establish trusts, as well. It’s also important to make sure that these tools are coordinated properly to avoid conflict and unintended consequences, and you’ll need to consider your beneficiary designations carefully.
Estate planning can be especially complicated for certain individuals. For example, if you own property in more than one state, your estate plan can be a little trickier, and international estate planning adds another level of complication. Same sex estate planning can also be more complicated.
People with large estates need to consider the tax implications of their estate plan. Oregon has the Estate Transfer Tax, sometimes called a death tax, which applies to estates worth at least $1 million. Real estate, retirement accounts and life insurance proceeds can all count toward this amount, so it can be easier to reach the $1 million mark than many people realize, so tax planning is important.
Parents with young children need to make sure their estate plan has the necessary provisions to provide for their children, such as beneficiary designations and trust formation. People who care for adults who are physically or mentally disabled also need to consider appropriate measures, such as special needs trusts.
Before settling on an estate planning attorney, think about your needs. Then look for an attorney with proven experience in estate planning for individuals in situations that are similar to your own.
What to Look For if You Need Help with Estate Administration
After a person dies, the estate often has to go through a legal process called probate. If a loved one has died recently, you may be dealing with the probate process. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you navigate probate.
Having an estate planning attorney by your side is especially important if you are acting as the executor of the estate. The executor of the estate has a legal fiduciary duty, and there are bonding requirements as well as important paperwork.
You may also need an estate attorney if you need to challenge the will, or if you think the executor of the estate has breached their duty. An attorney can also help if you have been named as a trustee and need to provide certain information to the trust beneficiaries.
If you’re dealing with probate or trusts, find an attorney with proven experience in these areas.
What to Look For if You Want to Tackle Incapacity Planning
Incapacity planning is an often-overlooked part of estate planning. A medical condition can render someone incapable of voicing their wishes for their own care.
An advance directive outlines what you want to happen, and this is important for anyone age 18 or older. Your advance directive should include a living will that states your wishes regarding medical care. You should also select a medical power of attorney who can make medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated.
If you need to tackle your incapacity planning, look for an attorney with experience handling advance directives.
Meeting with the Law Firm
Once you have settled on an attorney who think will be a good match for your needs, it’s time to schedule a consultation.
To help the consultation go smoothly and to get as much out of it as possible, you want to be prepared. Find out what information you should bring with you and whether there’s any new client paperwork you can fill out ahead of time.
During the consultation, don’t be shy. Ask any questions and raise any concerns you have. The attorney should take time to answer your questions and put you at ease. If this doesn’t happen, the estate planning law firm may not be a good fit for you.
Oregon Estate Planning Attorney Checklist
Ask the following questions when selecting an Oregon estate planning attorney.
- Does the attorney specialize in estate planning?
- Does the attorney offer the specific estate planning services you need?
- Does the attorney have experience with estate planning for people in your situation? (For example, if you are in a same sex couple, does the attorney have experience with same sex estate planning? If your estate involves more than one country, does the attorney have experience with international estate planning?)
- Does the attorney have good reviews, referrals and testimonials?
- Does the attorney take time to answer any questions you have during the consultation?
- Do you feel comfortable working with this attorney?
As an Oregon estate planning attorney, Ginger Skinner helps Oregon families create advantageous estate and succession strategies. She has earned a stellar reputation as an estate planning attorney with experience in international estates, and she has been honored with a spot on the 2022 Best Lawyers list. Contact Skinner Law.