ESTATE PLANNING, PROBATE & ELDER LAW
Our law firm provides a variety of services to meet our clients’ estate planning and estate administration needs including:
- Preparation of wills and trusts
- Estate planning
- Guardianships and Conservatorships
- Advance directives
- Estate tax planning
- Gift planning
- Trust administration
- Litigation of contested matters
- Lifetime planning for family businesses and lifetime transfers to family members
At Huycke O’Connor Jarvis, LLP we have more than 25 years of experience handling estate and probate matters. Estate planning is designed to help clients avoid the time and cost of probate, minimize exposure to unnecessary estate taxes, and prevent unnecessary family conflict. Our approach is to customize plans with the client as the decision maker to help clients plan for the future and protect their family.
An estate plan includes more than wills and trusts, it also relies on careful and professional advice that is tailored to your situation. While wills and trusts are invaluable, a comprehensive estate plan should also incorporate a power of attorney and advance directive. These documents provide necessary protection in the event of an unexpected accident or illness.
Wills and Trusts
Wills and trusts are at the core of careful estate planning. Through the use of a Last Will and Testament, you can effectively transfer your assets to your intended beneficiaries at the time of your passing.
A trust is a great way to transfer property to a family member or loved one in a way that avoids probate. Any property that is in your name at the time of your death may be subject to probate. Since the probate process is timely and costly, a trust is an invaluable estate planning tool.
Probate is the court-supervised transfer of property from a deceased person (decedent) to his or her heirs and beneficiaries. Assets are anything a person owns of value, such as real and personal property and cash. Probate is not always necessary. If the deceased person owned bank accounts or property jointly with another person, the surviving co-owner may own that property automatically. Additionally, if a person dies leaving a small amount of assets such as personal effects of limited value, these items can be distributed among the rightful beneficiaries without the supervision of the court.
When probate is needed
Probate may be needed to: Transfer title to the decedent’s assets (real property, stocks, bank accounts) to the rightful beneficiaries (including a trust where the trust was not properly funded); collect debts owed to the deceased; settle a dispute between people who claim they are entitled to the deceased’s assets; and/or resolve any disputes about the validity of the will.
The “small estate” proceeding
A smaller estate may be able to avoid the more lengthy and costly probate process if it meets the requirements for filing. This procedure involves filing a document called an “Affidavit of Claiming Successor.” This procedure can be used if the estate’s personal property is valued at no more than $75,000 and real property is valued at no more than $200,000, for a total estate value of no more than $275,000. An experienced attorney can help determine if you qualify to utilize this proceeding and assist you in navigating its legal requirements.
Does probate affect taxes?
No. Probate does not affect taxes that must be paid. Taxes are based on the total assets that a person owns at the time of his/her death. There are federal and state estate taxes. These amounts change frequently as Congress and our state legislature determine the amounts.
Do I need a lawyer for a probate proceeding?
Probate involves multiple steps that must be filed in a timely manner. It is important to understand the legal principles involved. A probate lawyer can help you avoid the many possible tax traps and other problems that can arise. A lawyer can also help you prepare and file the numerous legal documents and notices and prepare you for any hearings in court.
Guardianships and Conservatorships
Deciding if a loved one needs the protection offered by a guardianship or conservatorship can be a difficult decision. An experienced attorney can help you with this decision and help you determine if the necessary legal standards are met in your particular case. If you wish to contest the imposition of a guardianship or conservatorship on you or a loved one an experienced attorney can prove invaluable in navigating the legal process. The law firm of Huycke O’Connor Jarvis, LLP., LLP has attorneys who specialize in these matters and who are available to assist you and, if necessary, help protect your interests in court.
We invite you to contact our Law Office in Medford, Oregon by phone (Medford: 541-772-1977, Ashland: 541-482-8491) or by email to learn how our experienced estate planning and estate administration attorneys can help you.