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Wills and Probate

How can you ensure that you have clearly recorded your final wishes regarding the disposition of your estate?

How can you avoid potential contention and litigation arising out of vague language used in earmarking certain items for specific family members?

What can you do to ensure that laws enacted that could affect your estate do not reduce what you can give to your heirs?

It is also important to be able to know what to avoid as well as what to do.

Having a solid will and estate plan crafted with a knowledgeable and experienced attorney you can trust will give you more peace of mind than you can imagine. Working with Phil Hingson also means that you will have a full understanding in everyday language of how and why your final plans are created.

Portland, Oregon, Attorney for Long Term Care Planning

As we talk with people throughout Oregon, one of the greatest concerns they mention is what to do to handle major health care costs if he or she is struck by Alzheimer's disease, another debilitating ailment, or an illness that could exhaust all the assets in an estate.

There is a lot of information and misinformation people have acquired from their friends, family members, neighbors, and the Internet.  To find out what is current and true about Medicaid eligibility and long-term care planning, please contact our office today and arrange a consultation.  Phil Hingson has over 20 years of experience in this area, and he can explain all your options and provide sound advice and peace of mind.

Savvy Estate Planning for Business Owners in Oregon

Is business succession planning a concern for you? Do you wonder what will happen to all your hard work once you pass away? Will a family member will take over, the business be sold to someone else, or is liquidation inevitable? Who is best qualified to take responsibility for your business operations? Are there special family issues to be considered?

Whether you operate a family business or a small business with several employees, you need a savvy estate planning attorney to ensure that your business plan has the nuances and special language to cover the expected and unexpected.

Call The Hingson Law Firm today and see how Phil Hingson can help you define the issues and bring clarity to your legal options–all in plain English. You may have more control than you think over what happens when you pass on or lose some capacity.

Phil Hingson is a well-schooled veteran attorney with knowledge of:

  • How to structure clear, legally sound succession plans for businesses
  • Buy/sell agreements
  • Taxation issues that may apply directly or peripherally to any business transfer

Call the office today to see what Phil can do for your business.  After all the work you've put into growing it, spend a little time protecting it.

Preparing for Possible Incapacity

While we always hope for the best, the reality is that most of us will experience a period of incapacity at some point in our lives.  We may be unable to direct our own medical care, and we may not be able to pay our bills, sell our house, or otherwise deal with our assets and finances.  At these most critical junctures, being prepared can save you and your loved ones a great deal of financial and emotional cost.

Each state has its own form of a medical directive.  Oregon, for example, has an Advance Directive that allows you to name health care representatives who can make medical decisions for you if you are unable to direct your own medical care, and also allows you to tell the doctors directly whether you do or do not want life support or tube feeding in four very serious situations.  The Advance Directive may be your most important estate planning document, given that nothing will impact you more personally than someone else directing your medical care.

A well-drafted general financial power of attorney is also crucial if you become financially incapacitated.  A general power of attorney would allow a person you designate (your attorney-in-fact) to do anything with your finances and assets that you could do.  A thoughtfully drafted power of attorney might also authorize gifting in appropriate circumstances.  Oregon has recently passed a law specifically allowing “springing” powers of attorney that do not take effect until a specified event takes place (such as becoming incapacitated).  Springing powers of attorney can add a level of protection to you and your finances, but may also raise a further issue.

Language in powers of attorney or trusts that allow someone else to handle your finances often require some evidence that you are incapacitated – often in the form of a letter from a doctor.  However, the HIPAA privacy laws can make it next to impossible for your attorney-in-fact (or successor trustee under a Trust) to obtain a letter from a doctor as proof of incapacity.  Different doctors and hospitals will have their own versions of HIPAA Authorizations (or “Releases”) that will allow you to grant to specified individuals access to your medical records for designated purposes.  It is wise to also have a backup HIPAA Authorization that can be used if needed.

While Wills and Trusts are the estate planning documents that receive the most attention, Advance Directives and well-drafted powers of attorney are also critical.  An appropriate HIPAA Authorization may be the key needed to help unlock the power of your estate planning documents that you have so carefully prepared.

How Marriage May Impact Your Estate Plan

Last week I wrote about divorce and how that impacts your Will and your overall estate plan, so it is only fitting that I write this week about how marriage affects your Will and your estate plan.

Under Oregon statutes, if you have an existing Will, and then get married, and you are then survived by your (new) spouse, then your Will is automatically revoked by statute (with two exceptions).  This is a shock for most people.  It can be years later when they come into my office and find out that the Will they thought they had in place all of these years may ultimately not be honored.  The usual solution is to create a new Will or Revocable Living Trust for them.

The exceptions to the automatic revocation are if: 1) the Will evidences an intent that it not be revoked by the subsequent marriage, or was done in contemplation of marriage; and 2) the person making the Will and his or her (new) spouse make a contract before their marriage (such as a prenuptial agreement) that either provides for the spouse or indicates that they will not receive any part of the estate.

So if a person is contemplating marriage, and wants to complete a Will prior to marriage, we can add in language to the Will that will keep it in effect despite the upcoming marriage.  In other words, we can overwrite the normal statutory revocation of the Will.

In contrast to a Will, a Revocable Living Trust is not automatically revoked by the subsequent marriage of the settlor/trustor (the person who set up the Trust), unless otherwise stated in the Trust document itself.

Also, keep in mind that with marriage there may be name changes and other changes that need to be integrated into your estate plan.

The rules surrounding Wills and Trusts can be complicated and counter-intuitive, and you are well advised to seek help from a competent attorney.  Also, the above rules are just another indication that when you have any major changes to your estate plan, such as a marriage, death or divorce, you need to check with your attorney to see if any changes need to be made.  Taking care of your loved ones, even after you are gone, will be one of the greatest legacies you leave behind.

Understanding the Impact of Divorce on Your Estate Plan

Divorce is a tough situation to go through. This is a time in your life when you need to reconsider what might happen if you were ever incapacitated or passed away, and establish a comprehensive estate plan that will carry out your wishes and will name those you trust to make decisions for you.

A few things to consider about how a divorce might affect your existing estate plan:

If you already have a Will, your ex-spouse will be treated as having predeceased you. In other words, your ex-spouse would no longer be the personal representative (executor) under your Will even if he or she is named as such, and would not be a beneficiary of your estate, even if the Will said otherwise. You should carefully consider whether you should name different or additional personal representatives and beneficiaries.

Your divorce decree may require that you include certain provisions in your Will, or that you have insurance policies with specific beneficiary provisions. Also, keep in mind that a subsequent marriage revokes your existing Will unless your contrary intent is clearly indicated.

In addition, there are a number of documents you may have in place that give your ex-spouse certain authority or rights with regard to your finances or health care that you may now wish to change. These may include a Power of Attorney, HIPAA Release, or Oregon Advance Directive.

If you have children, attending to their needs is a top priority. If your children are young or have special needs or should not be given a substantial sum of money for some reason, you will probably want to include carefully worded trust language for them in your Will or Trust, and will want to carefully choose the trustee and the successor trustee who would administer those trust funds. Your ex-spouse may or may not be the best choice to handle such trustee duties. You should also indicate in your documents who you would want to be the guardian for your children if you were not able to care for them. The guardian is the person who would be appointed by a court to make decisions about your children's health care and where they live, and to make sure that their non-financial needs are being met.

The estate planning considerations mentioned above are not meant to be a complete list. If these considerations, together with all of the other considerations mentioned in this guide, are a bit overwhelming, the good news is that you do not have to handle all of these changes alone. There are professionals who are trained to help you and guide you through these important tasks. A competent estate planning attorney, for example, can sit down with you and help you decide whether you should have a Will or Trust, who should be in charge of the children if something happened to you, and which of your estate planning documents should be updated given your wishes and given the existing law at the time. While attorneys are not cheap, their advice can be invaluable, and they can help you create an appropriate estate plan that will give you peace of mind and will help meet your wishes no matter what the future holds.

Straight Talk, Informed by Legal Knowledge and Dedication

With full sensitivity and understanding of your desires, attorney Phil Hingson offers legal counsel free of legal jargon that is only understood by other lawyers. At the same time, you can have confidence that you are working with an estate planning and trust administration lawyer who stays up to date on the frequent changes in state and federal laws that may impact you.

Whether you are seeking a plan to help avoid a guardianship or conservatorship, or you need help handling challenging responsibilities, please contact us today. We welcome people from across northern Oregon and strive every day to deliver high-quality estate planning and elder law counsel.

Thoughtful, Personal Guidance in Your Best Interests

Should you ever became incapacitated, you would want what was best for you and your family. Planning in advance for incapacity can save you and your family large amounts of time and money, not to mention minimizing pain and frustration if your loved ones do not know your wishes.

An advance directive (sometimes called a “living will” or “health care power of attorney”) is one important component of this, but working with us often results in more complete and reliable protection for you and your family.

Experience and Skill Handling Guardianships and Conservatorships

In virtually any situation involving your own financial concerns, planning for incapacity, or planning for the care of a family member, you can turn to us at The Hingson Law Firm in Portland and receive sound guidance.

Our range of services includes:

• Comprehensive estate planning to allow you maximum control over what will happen to you and your assets if you die or become incapacitated

• Drafting of detailed, legally sound powers of attorney and other documents to prevent your affairs from being handled through a conservatorship or guardianship

• Personalized assistance if you need to petition for a guardianship or conservatorship in Oregon, due to the inability of a family member to handle their own financial or other needs

• Ongoing legal advice and assistance if you have been appointed as a conservator or guardian, helping ensure you meet obligations such as submission of annual reports and remain in compliance with all specific Oregon laws in this area

Responsiveness to Your Immediate Needs and Long-Term Goals

Our strengths as a focused estate planning and elder law firm include dedication to finding solutions without “overselling” our clients or overcomplicating situations. You can contact us with confidence that we will work hard to address your real needs — and act as quickly as possible or necessary to make sure you achieve maximum asset protection.

Assessing Your Options in View of Escalating Health Care Costs

Almost everyone in their fifties and many people earlier in their lives think about planning for nursing home care or treatment of a serious illness. Whether you have received a diagnosis of Alzheimer's or early dementia, believe you are genetically susceptible to any such condition, or simply want to be prudent and proactive, we are well prepared to help you with long-term care decisions and Medicaid planning.

Your options may include:

  • Gaining assurance that your substantial assets are sufficient for any likely scenario, so that you know you will be able to pay “out of pocket” for long term care
  • Purchase of long term care insurance that provides security and peace of mind
  • Specialized estate planning — from specific language in your will and power of attorney to development of an income cap trust or other specific legal document — designed to accomplish Medicaid planning and protect the futures of your spouse and other heirs

Not only does attorney Phil Hingson have extensive knowledge of Oregon laws, estate planning, and Medicaid eligibility, our firm frequently calls upon other specialized resources you can trust — from capable financial planners to providers of legitimate, proven long-term care insurance. We can provide referrals or work alongside you to help ensure your goals are met.

Contact Us Today

The Hingson Law Firm, PC is committed to answering your questions about Estate Planning, Trusts, Wills, Probate, Guardianships, Conservatorships, and Medicaid law issues in Oregon.

We'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.