Wills & Trusts Attorneys in Albany, Oregon
According to a 2021 Gallup poll, only 46% of American adults have a will in place that specifies where their assets should go after they die. One major reason more people haven’t started estate planning is that they’re not sure where to begin. If you need help drafting a will or trust and would like to speak with an estate planning attorney, call us at Felling & Reid, LLC in Albany, Oregon, serving those throughout Linn, Benton, Marion, Polk, and Lincoln counties.
Differences Between Wills & Trusts
The two most common documents you’ll come across in an estate plan are wills and trusts. Both outline what should happen with your assets after you die, but they do so in different ways so when getting started with your plan, it’s important to answer the question, “How is a trust different than a will?”
In Oregon, anyone over the age of 18 who is of sound mind and body can make out a will and have it witnessed and signed by two people. Your will outlines where your assets (such as bank account balances, real property, personal property, and investments) should go, names a personal representative (known as an executor in other jurisdictions, this is the person responsible for administering your will), indicates how debts and taxes should be paid, and names a guardian for any minor children.
Although there are a few different types of wills, those known as “simple” wills that serve most people’s needs. In some states, you may be able to draft a joint will along with your spouse, but in Oregon, these are not allowed as each spouse must have their own will. You may have also heard of “holographic” wills that are hand-written and unwitnessed. These are technically prohibited in Oregon but there are special circumstances where they can be used. Lastly, there’s a document called a “pour-over” will which is used in tandem with a trust to deal with any provisions or assets that aren’t included in the trust.
A trust functions in a similar way to a will, but allows you to put more conditions on how your assets are distributed. Trusts let you transfer assets out of your name and into the name of a trustee while you’re still living. Although the assets will no longer be in your name, you will still have control over them.
There are two main types of trusts: revocable and irrevocable. A revocable trust can still be changed during your lifetime, meaning you can move assets in and out of it, add or rename beneficiaries, and even rename your trustee. Irrevocable trusts are more permanent and once you place assets in them, they cannot be removed. These can be helpful if you want to shelter certain assets from tax liability, but you should always consult an estate planning attorney to discuss your best options.
Why Having a Will or
Trust Is Important
Many people may wonder, “Who needs a will or trust?” because they don’t feel they have enough assets to warrant one or they figure the assets will just go to their kids anyway. However, even those without a big estate can benefit from having one. If you die intestate (without a will), your assets will likely be awarded to a family member based on the State's definition of the closest relative, which may or may not be what you want. And they will have to go through the process of probate, which can be very time-consuming and expensive. Wills have to go through probate as well, but that process is much smoother since you’ll have already named a personal representative and beneficiaries.
One major benefit of trusts is that they bypass probate, saving your loved ones time and money. Trusts are also kept confidential after you die, unlike a will which becomes a public record. Instead, assets are directly transferred to those you've named. Additionally, assets in a trust can be kept until a future date which can be beneficial if you have minor-aged children. Lastly, a trust can be used for protection in cases of mental incapacitation to outline your wishes for end-of-life care.
Choosing a Trustee & Beneficiaries
Perhaps the most important decision you’ll need to make when drafting a will or trust is choosing your beneficiaries, personal representative, and trustee. Know that most estate plans can be revised, so if you experience a change in your life (like getting remarried or having children), you can adjust it as needed. You’ll also want to take extra care to choose an administrator and trustee that you can depend on to follow your wishes and one you can trust to make decisions on your behalf.
Wills & Trusts Attorneys Serving Albany, Oregon
If you’re in the Albany, Oregon, region and would like to discuss your options for estate planning, reach out to us at Felling & Reid, LLC. We’re committed to educating our clients about the benefits of having a will or trust so they can make informed decisions about their futures. Call today to get started.