I’m a single person with no children – What kind of estate planning do I need? – Estate Planning Attorney – Portland, Oregon

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The attorneys with the Law Offices of Nay & Friedenberg describe a basic estate plan for a single person with no children.

At a minimum, everyone should have the following documents: a Power of Attorney for Finances, an Advance Directive for Health Care, and a will.

With a Power of Attorney for Finances and Advance Directive for Health Care, you may plan for the possibility that you may become incapacitated and unable to manage your affairs. The Power of Attorney for Finances allows you to appoint a surrogate decision maker for all financial matters. With the Advance Directive for Health Care, you may appoint a health care representative for health care decisions. These documents expire at your death. Only a person who is competent may sign a Power of Attorney for Finances and an Advance Directive for Health Care, so it is important to sign these documents during periods of good health. Often when these documents are needed, the window for signing them has already passed.

Without a Power of Attorney for Finances or an Advance Directive for Health Care in place, no one will have authority to make decisions for you if the need arises. In those situations, your family members may have to go to court for a conservatorship or guardianship. Conservators have the authority to handle your finances and guardians may make decisions about your health matters and living arrangements. Generally, conservatorships and guardianships should be avoided if possible because of the expense, loss of privacy, and deprivation of rights.

In planning for your death, you should consider signing the most basic estate planning document, a will. With a will, you may appoint a Personal Representative(executor) to handle your estate after you pass on. You may also direct the distribution of your estate, including the distribution of your personal belongings.

If you die without a will, then your estate will be distributed according to Oregon law. Without a will, no part of your estate can go to a close friend or charity because Oregon law directs that those estates go to spouses and/or the closest blood relatives. You cannot direct that certain possessions with significant sentimental value go to the person(s) for whom those items would have the most meaning. Only a will can ensure your last wishes are carried out.

The basic estate plan consists of the three documents mentioned above. Having those documents in place is a true gift to your family and friends. They will likely save your family and friends a lot of unnecessary stress, expense, and frustration.

An experienced estate planning attorney makes all the difference in making sure you have the proper documents to fit your planning needs. Contact the Estate Planning attorneys with the Law Offices of Nay & Friedenberg in Portland, Oregon at (503) 245-0894 to set an appointment.