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
If you divorce, will a future inheritance from your parents be taken into account in determining the award to your spouse? In Oregon, the answer is generally no. Continue reading
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
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.
Most married couples using a revocable trust select what is commonly referred to as a “joint trust.” Instead of having to split or horse trade assets between each spouse’s separate trust, they are all pooled into a single trust. This makes the “funding” process light years easier. In many instances, clients would refuse to use a revocable trust if they had to split assets between two separate trusts. Closing existing cash and brokerage accounts, setting up new accounts and balancing future withdrawals between the accounts is just too much.