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.”

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THE TROUBLE WITH LOANS TO CHILDREN

Loans to children are a frequent source of family conflict — and often instigate lucrative estate litigation projects for lawyers. Here’s why.

Loan vs. Gift

There is a huge legal difference between a loan and a gift, namely that a gift does not have to be repaid. But loans may gradually mutate into gifts. For example, under Oregon law, a suit must be filed within six years to collect a debt. If no suit is filed, collection of the debt is barred by the statute of limitations. Thus, if a parent makes a loan to a child and takes no collection action for six years, the child has no legal obligation to repay and the loan has effectively become a gift. This has several consequences. First, and most important, the executor is probably barred from offsetting the child’s inheritance by the amount of the loan. In other words, the loan is irrelevant when determining the child’s share of the decedent’s estate.
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