Serving the Washington, Multnomah, Clackamas Counties


Avoid Homemade Estate Planning–Hire an Oregon Attorney

The availability of online legal document services (like LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer) produces a false sense of security. Many people gain the impression that drafting a will, creating a trust or starting probate is a fun do-it-yourself project that saves money and yields desirable results without attorney involvement.

In reality, the best service offered by these sites is general information. They do not offer insight on unique situations or provide continuing support. Rocket Lawyer, for example, allows online consultations with attorneys but this contact does not create an attorney-client relationship. You are not guaranteed representation if plans fail to work out.

The desire to create your own estate plan shows a lack of understanding of what estate lawyers do in Washington, Multnomah, Marion and Clackamas counties. If you have children, own real estate or maintain a stock portfolio, you definitely need to hire an attorney who specializes in wills, trusts, and probate. Even if you do not fall under these categories, hiring an estate planning attorney in West Linn, OR provides advantages and peace of mind. Here are four reasons to avoid placing estate planning among your do-it-yourself projects.


A 2016 Gallup Poll indicated only 44 percent of Americans signed and notarized wills that tells loved ones how their assets will be distributed. The percentage drops to 35 percent for the age 30 to 49 bracket–a time in life when many people are starting families and gaining assets. Estate planning becomes something to do later until an unexpected event disrupts a previously happy family life and financial stability.

When you rely on online document services, it is easy to keep estate planning into the “some day” category. You can login at any time–right? However, making an appointment with an estate planning attorney near you solidifies the commitment. You are held accountable to the attorney as you provide information, answer questions, and make informed decisions.

The initial consultation starts the process and increases the likelihood you will finish it. Your estate plan goes from being “some day” on the backburner to being a final product for future security!

Informed Decision Making

Online do-it-yourself legal document services are not alone in providing people false senses of security. There are entire industries dedicated to helping people “avoid probate”, usually through expensive complex trusts.

On first look, this approach seems appealing because its salespeople and flashy websites market it as a way to transfer assets quicker and allow loved ones larger inheritances. Many people also believe this saves them money although it is possible to hire a reasonably-priced estate planning attorney.

However, probate is not necessarily a horror to be avoided. If you have a clear will or trust plan drafted by an attorney, probate will be an efficient and uneventful process. When probate is finished, your assets will change title to your heirs and there are no further steps.

Businesses focused on avoiding probate charge people thousands of dollars for trust products that are often unnecessary. You are not receiving legal advice as much as a pitch for a product, so you will not make a fully informed choice.

When you hire an estate planning attorney, you hear all your options. You will also better understand the probate process and how it does not pose a danger to you or your loved ones.

There is no reason to spend thousands of dollars for a complex trust when all you need is a will and an initial investment of $300 to $400 to have it drafted.

Special Circumstances

Online legal forms do not consider special circumstances. If you have children with special needs and/or you care for an elderly family member, your estate plan must consider their support. That is difficult to do if you draft a will or trust from generic forms.

If you and/or your spouse have children from prior marriages, it is especially important that you consult with an experienced estate planning attorney.  A poorly thought-out will or trust will not only cause disputes between your kids and stepkids, but may result in the “wrong” relatives inheriting your assets.

An estate planning attorney reviews these situations to find the best approach to address them. If your family member receives disability or old age benefits, those may be canceled if they inherit too much from you. Government or private entities could seize the funds if there is outstanding debt on an individual’s’ medical care and your gift exceeds allowable minimum assets. The impacts are immense for this error and it is a common one when people attempt their own estate planning documents.

Meeting with an estate planning attorney better assures your loved ones receive the support they need from your estate. There are trust vehicles and strategies that maintain medical treatment and standard of living while also avoiding a loss of benefits or tax consequences.

Additional Services

An estate plan is not just a piece of paper, whether a will or a trust. While it is prudent to plan for the disposition of your assets after death, you should also plan for another possibility–incapacitation.

There is a chance that whatever fails to kill you just leaves you mentally or physically incapacitated. This can leave you unable to make financial or medical decisions or run your day-to-day affairs. If you have a will or trust but no documents addressing courses of action if you are incapacitated, you leave your family members in uncomfortable limbo.

You likely want to assure someone can access your bank accounts and investments, make business transactions if you are self-employed, pick up your mail, and even access your safety deposit box. An estate planning attorney recommends a Power of Attorney along with your will or trust. This document appoints an agent to handle these affairs if you become incapable of doing so.

Besides finances and business, you must also consider healthcare. Advanced directives and health care powers of attorney indicate your treatment preferences and appoint a representative to make medical decisions for you in the event of incapacitation. It makes your preferences well-known, for example, whether you wish to have your life sustained by artificial means. This eases decision-making for your family members because no matter how deep they are in grief, they at least have little doubt as to what you want.

Another service provided by your estate planning attorney is representation during the probate process. When you die, it is easier for loved ones to know that one telephone call to your attorney starts probate. There is no attorney search or questions about the location of your will. Since people are not at their logical best when they are grieving, having one contact point for your estate plan and probate needs makes this ordeal much easier.

There is an estate attorney near you in West Linn, OR who serves Washington, Multnomah, Marion, and Clackamas counties. Avoid the do-it-yourself approach and contact Diane L. Gruber, Attorney at Law,  to schedule a consultation.

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