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Frequently-Asked Questions

Below are some of our most frequently-asked questions. If you have additional concerns that are not addressed here, feel free to contact me.

1. What is elder law?

Elder law refers to many topics of interest to elderly people, their families, and their caretakers, including estate planning, tax planning, disability planning, health care decisions. Medicaid planning, Medicare, assisted living, protective proceedings, retirement planning, social security, physical abuse, financial abuse, and elder abuse. Some areas of elder law are highly specialized.

2. What is a protective proceeding?

A protective proceeding is a judicial action that can be brought by any person who is interested in the affairs or welfare of another person in which appointment of a guardian or conservator or both is requested.

3. What is elder abuse?

The abuse of an elderly person occurs whenever that person is the victim of physical or financial wrong doing. If you suspect that elder abuse is occurring, you should call Oregon Adult Protective Services at 1-800-406-4287 or 503-945-9495.

A civil action may be brought in Oregon against a person responsible for elder abuse. A court may grant a wide variety of relief, including damages, attorney's fees and restraining orders.

4. What is an Advance Directive?

An Advance Directive is a document that contains a health care instruction or a power of attorney for health care. It can be signed by any capable adult.

To be effective in Oregon, an Advance Directive must in the form required by statute, and it must be signed and witnessed in accordance with Oregon law.

An Advance Directive can be revoked or amended at any time by a capable adult.

5. What is a living trust and should I have one?

A living trust provides a means of asset management while you are living, and like a will, sets parameters for asset transfer upon your death.

The cost of a living trust versus a will can vary depending on your planning objectives. The benefits of a living trust as opposed to a will also vary from case to case. You should consult me or another attorney to determine which instrument best suits your situation.

6. Will a living trust eliminate taxes?

Not necessarily. A living trust can eliminate the probate process, and it is often used as one element of a plan to eliminate or minimize taxes. Consult me or another attorney to determine whether a living trust suits your objectives.

7. Should I avoid probate?

Probate is the term applied to the court-supervised administration of an estate. Specifically, it is the process by which assets are gathered; debts, taxes and other expenses are paid; and remaining property is distributed to designated beneficiaries.

People often seek to avoid probate believing it is more costly than other means of estate administration, such as a living trust. This isn't always true. Many people also assume that since probate is court-administered, the state will take a portion of the estate as a fee or tax. This is also not true. Avoiding probate will not necessarily result in decreased costs, fees or tax obligations.

In some cases, a probate proceeding may be desirable as a means of assuring that assets are passed to heirs free from the claims of creditors. Like other estate planning decisions, whether to avoid probate should be considered in the context of your circumstances. You should consult me or another attorney with further questions.

8. What is a will contest?

A will contest is a proceeding where someone challenges the validity of a will. There are many grounds for doing so such as lack of mental capacity, undue influence, fraud, coercion, and duress. The rules that apply to will contests are often technical. There are strict time limitations that apply and proceedings to challenge a will must be filed promptly.

9. What is undue influence?

Undue influence arises when a person has been wrongfully persuaded to sign a will or other instrument. If undue influence can be established, the court will set aside the will or other instrument.

If you believe that undue influence has occurred please contact me for further information.

10. How do you charge for your services?

My client relationships begin with an initial consultation. For some initial consultations, I will charge a small fee.

During the initial consultation, I will provide a detailed estimate of the cost of my services. In most cases, my fees will be based on my current hourly rate, and the total cost will vary depending on the amount of time required. I routinely provide a written fee agreement to assure a thorough understanding of my fees and how they are to be paid.

I provide detailed, written statements of services each month. These statements include a complete itemization of all activity that has occurred during the previous 30 days. I encourage open communication about these statements, and I try very hard to avoid misunderstandings about the cost of my services.

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