Many people don’t view estate planning as an essential function of a family law attorney. We disagree. After all, estate planning is essentially the process of determining how your family and other loved ones will be protected after your death (or another major life event, such as incapacitation). Estate planning has many facets, but here are a few of the services we can provide at Coast Family Law:
A will is a document that allows a person to predetermine what will happen to their assets after they die. In the simplest example, a will might state a desire to leave all monetary assets to one person and all physical assets (cars, houses, etc.) to another. A will typically also appoints one personal representative to make sure the deceased person’s wishes are carried out. Wills and the ultimate distribution of assets are overseen by a probate court.
A trust is similar to a will in that it sets forth precisely how a person (called a “trustor”) wants their assets to be distributed. A trust document usually appoints a person or entity (called a “trustee”) to oversee and distribute a person’s assets. Importantly, however, the trust can call for asset distribution while the trustor is still alive. Consequently, trusts do not have to go through probate court after a person dies. This makes trusts an attractive estate planning option for many people.
At Coast Family Law, we’re familiar with the vast intricacies of these different estate planning devices and can help you pick the best one for your family’s ongoing needs.
Aside from the distribution of hard assets like cash, cars, or houses, your estate may include other instruments that will provide your loved ones with benefits after you die. Primary examples are life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and social security benefits. Family law attorneys help you navigate those instruments to ensure that the proper people are designated as your beneficiaries.
Sometimes, disputes arise after a person’s death as to whether a particular designation of beneficiary was proper. Using a lawyer to make your designations will help stave off any challenges that may arise when you are no longer here to express your wishes.
A Power of Attorney (“POA”) is a legal document that allows someone to step in and act on your behalf should you become incapacitated (for example, if an illness renders you unable to make decisions about your health or finances). By designating a POA before such an unfortunate event, you can rest assured that someone you know and trust will be making decisions in a way that protects your best interests.
In addition to POAs, your family law attorney can discuss other advance directives that you may want as a part of your overall estate plan. These include things like “Do Not Resuscitate” orders, which instruct medical teams not to perform life saving measures in the event your heart stops, or other health care directives that instruct your medical team how to respond if specific medical situations arise during your incapacitation.
Coast Family Law offers personalized estate planning guidance to clients on the Oregon coast, including Clatsop and Tillamook counties. Our office is in Gearhart, conveniently located between Astoria and Tillamook. We invite you to contact us at (503) 739-7616 or by using our online contact form to schedule a consultation with a family law attorney. We look forward to working with you.