Rod Grafe of Grafe Law


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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Trust?
A living trust is another way to provide for a transfer of assets. Usually, a living trust is created during a person’s lifetime. Assets are transferred into it. Binding directions are included in the trust which govern distribution of assets at death. Usually, unless the beneficiaries dispute its provisions, trust assets do not go through probate

Who can be my trustee?
Any legally competent adult can be a trustee.  So can a trust firm or an Oregon bank.  In the case of a living trust, the trustor can name themselves trustee  You can even name multiple trustees to handle multiple tasks.

I'm not big on planning, can I just leave everything for my trustee to sort out for me?
All trusts must have detailed instructions.  Anything left unaddressed could fall to the discretion of the courts, incurring costs later on. 

What if I want to keep some of my assets?
Any assets not included in the trust should be included in a will.  Because it is a distinct legal entity, you can actually leave assets to your trust in your will.

What is an irrevocable trust?
Some people tend to set up irrevocable trusts to avoid paying estate taxes.  Irrevocable trusts can cause complications and do not suit every situation.  Estate taxes shouldn't concern you unless your estate is valued at over  $1 million.

Are trusts expensive?
Despite being legal entities, trusts do not run themselves.  Depending on your needs, accountants, money managers, lawyers, tax prepareers, and other professionals still need to be paid, and assets still need to be maintained. 

What is a will?
A will is a legal document, singed in the presence to two witnesses over 18 years old who also sign the will, that directs what happens to a person’s assets after death and can designate guardians and conservators for surviving children. The will is filed in the Probate Court. Only assets that have no other way to transfer will be governed by a will.

What do I need to create a will?
To start, you need an executor to appraise and distribute your assets upon your death.  The executor must be a non-felon and must be over 18.  You must be of sound mind, and sign the will yourself in the presence of two witnesses.

What happens if I don't get one?
After fees, taxes, and repaying your debtors, your assets are redistributed to next of kin as dictated by Oregon law.

Can't I just write my own or download a template online?
Not going through proper procedures in accordance with Oregon law will invalidate your will.

Do I have to name every asset in my will?
Assets like 401 plans, IRAs, and insurance policies generally name beneficiaries when they are drawn up, so they do not go through probate.  If you own assets jointly with your spouse, such as a house or a bank account, it transfers to them through Right of Survivorship.

Can't I just leave everything in a joint account?
Anything jointly owned by your spouse transfers to them under Right of Survivorship.  Setting up joint assets with a child, acquaintance, or other beneficiary can incur gift taxes, loss of benefits, and other unforeseen legal complications.  It's best to consult a lawyer  before looking into this option.

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