WHEN SHOULD YOU REVIEW & REVISE YOUR WILL OR REVOCABLE TRUST?

It is not unusual for clients to wait 20 years or longer before re-reading their wills or revocable trusts to determine if they still “work.” This occasionally creates expensive or frustrating problems. Continue reading

DO I HAVE TO FILE ESTATE TAX RETURNS?

A threshold issue an executor or trustee must resolve is whether an estate tax return is required. If so, the return must be filed (and the tax must be paid) within nine months of the decedent’s death, although the filing date can be extended for six months. Continue reading

SELLING OR DISTRIBUTING THE DECEDENT’S RESIDENCE TO A BENEFICIARY

Executors usually liquidate all of the decedent’s property and distribute cash to the beneficiaries. Occasionally, however, a beneficiary wants to receive the decedent’s real property in kind, as part of his share. The beneficiary may already live in the property, or may want to move there in the future. Another example is vacation property. What might seem like a simple transaction can become contentious and complicated. Selected issues and recommendations follow. Continue reading

IS A LAWYER NEEDED TO ADMINISTER A REVOCABLE TRUST AFTER DEATH?

A revocable trust (sometimes known as a “living trust”) is a will substitute that avoids probate at death. Thus, a lawyer is not needed to prepare and file probate documents with a court. Do you need a lawyer for anything else? Usually the answer is “yes,” at least on an as needed basis. Continue reading

REASONABLE TRUSTEE FEES & EXECUTOR FEES

Trustee Fees

Most trust agreements state that the trustee is entitled to a “reasonable fee” — without further explanation. The Oregon Uniform Trust Code [ORS 130.635(1)] is no better: “If the terms of a trust do not specify the trustee’s compensation, a trustee is entitled to compensation that is reasonable under the circumstances.”

What is reasonable? Continue reading