In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. – Benjamin Franklin
It only makes sense to plan for what is certain.
Estate planning is first and foremost a method to protect and provide for your family once you are gone. There are two major things to consider when making your estate plan: Family facts and financial facts. The combination of these two factors determines how complex your estate plan needs to be. A married couple with one or more children who get along and who will inherit after their parents have passed may have a relatively easy time crafting such a plan. People with blended families, combative children, who want to benefit charities substantially, or who have a special needs family members should consult with counsel. If you intend to disinherit someone for one reason or another, we also strongly recommend consulting with counsel.
Size isn’t everything, and a modest estate doesn’t necessarily equate to a simple estate plan. If you own a business, real estate, or have substantial debts, your estate planning deserves special attention to protect your hard-won assets. On the other hand, a large estate consisting of a handful of financial accounts can be surprisingly simple, though it may still benefit from planning to reduce or eliminate the impact of the Federal and Oregon estate tax.
While there is a proliferation of inexpensive, do-it-yourself estate planning tools available, we recommend consulting an attorney to review your documents at the very least. Several times in my practice, I have seen instances where the self-prepared document did not do what its creators intended. Furthermore, an attorney can serve as an independent, professional witness to your wishes. In my experience, the testimony of counsel can settle a will contest before it even starts. As with many things in life, an ounce of prevention can be worth a pound of cure.