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General Estate Planning Information

1. What you should know about estate planning

If you don't make $1 million a year, only own one modest home and are still driving the same car you bought six years ago, you might think you don't need to engage in "estate planning." Or you may think your family accountant or attorney will be the only professional you need to help you with this important task.

Your "estate" is much more than just the amount of cash you'll leave to your loved ones, Estate planning ensures your investments, retirement savings, insurance policies, real estate, business interests and cash will all be handled according to your wishes when you're gone. Just as you would seek out a specialist for a specific health need, you should look for professionals whose education and experience are specialized to the needs of people planning their estates.

2. What is estate planning?

Estate planning means making decisions about how all your assets – from your home to your checking account – will be handled in the event of your death. Once you've made those decisions, estate planning also helps you establish procedures for making sure your wishes are carried out correctly and efficiently.

You're probably already doing some estate planning on your own without even realizing it. For example, naming a beneficiary for your life insurance or IRA is part of estate planning, as is drawing up a will.

3. What is an estate planner?

Thousands of professionals, from certified public accountants to lawyers, are involved in estate planning every day. When planning your estate, it's likely you'll actually need more than one professional to handle different aspects of the process. In fact, in many cases the Taylor Law Firm estate planning attorneys will advocate a team approach..A multi-disciplinary team approach, one that incorporates the services of a group of qualified individuals, is most effective. Accredited Estate Planners may be accountants, attorneys, insurance or financial planners and trust officers with different areas of expertise, but all have earned the certification by adhering to strict educational and experience guidelines.

4. Do I really need to plan for my estate?

Yes. If you have anything that your heirs will inherit, you need to plan for how it will be managed and distributed. That's true no matter how great or small your net worth, whether you have one child or seven.

Failing to plan for your estate opens up the possibility of:

  • The courts appointing a guardian for your dependent children.
  • The courts deciding how your money will be managed and distributed.
  • Your heirs paying more taxes (income and estate) than necessary on their inheritance.
  • Court costs, legal and other professional fees in probate or guardianship proceedings could whittle away your estate, leaving your heirs with less than you intended.

The size of your estate will influence how involved the estate planning process is for you.

5. When should I do estate planning?

Estate planning should be an on-going process conducted throughout your lifetime. Whenever you experience significant life changes, like marriage or divorce, the birth of a child or death of a spouse, job change or home move, you should re-evaluate your estate plan to ensure it still meets the needs of you and your family.

Don't wait until your first child is born or you're approaching retirement to get started. If you have assets and you care about how they will be handled after your death, you need to begin the estate planning process, no matter what your age or marital status.

6. What's the best way to get started?

Drawing up a will and designating a guardian for your children are two important steps in estate planning. So is preparing for the tax impact your bequests will have for your heirs. Priscilla Taylor at The Taylor Law Firm has been providing personalized and comprehensive estate planning and probate legal services to clients in Washington and Oregon for the past twenty years.

7. What are estate and inheritance taxes?

Estate taxes are the taxes that need to be paid out of your estate after you die. These are based on the total amount of assets that you own at the time of your death. There are federal estate taxes as well as ones due to Oregon. These amounts change frequently as Congress and our state legislature determine the amounts. The estate planning lawyers at The Taylor Law Firm are able to draft a will, trust or other document, as well as give you advice, to help reduce the amount of taxes your estate may owe upon your death.

The Taylor Law Firm, LLC
• 15171 SW Bangy Road Lake Oswego, Oregon 97035
• Tel: 503-675-4340 • Fax: 503-200-1268 • Email Us.