In this edition of M&B Monthly…
- Letter From the President
- Feature Article: My Loved One Passed Away, What Now?
- Forward Our Webinar Sign Up Link
- A Little About Us… Highlighting Trust Administration Attorney, Melissa Graveson and Her Favorite Tortellini Salad Recipe
Letter from the President, Justin Martin
Dear M&B Family,
Melissa Graveson joined our firm last year to work in our firm’s trust administration practice. This is an area of law where we help Trustees ensure that the wishes of the deceased are followed. In this article, Melissa shares some common Trustee perspectives and steps Trustees take to administer the Trust.
Justin R. Martin
My Loved One Passed Away, Now What?
by Melissa Graveson
Losing a loved one is tremendously challenging. In addition to grieving the loss, the family is thrown into making funeral arrangements, paying bills, and sorting through their loved one’s estate.
Naturally, the process feels overwhelming, and it can be hard to know where to begin. Often multiple family members are involved in planning the funeral and sorting through personal effects. While the assistance is helpful, someone needs to take point in administering the estate. If mom or dad had an estate plan, these documents will name the point person (either a trustee under a trust and or a personal representative under a will).
If you are appointed as the trustee or personal representative and wish to accept the role, Oregon law provides standards for managing and distributing the assets of your loved one’s estate and grants certain beneficiary rights. Your role is to ensure that the terms of the will or trust are carried out as written, expenses and taxes are paid, every asset is accounted for, and finally that all property is distributed to the intended beneficiaries.
Estate administration can take several months or more to complete and includes four major steps.
Step one is identifying and securing the assets. This process ensures that every asset is accounted for and provides the trustee or personal representative with an overview of what they will be managing. The following questions (among others) may come to mind. Does anyone have access to the deceased’s bank account who shouldn’t? Did the deceased specify who gets certain personal property like jewelry, pocket watch, collectibles, etc.? Is important paperwork still being mailed to the house? This process may include freezing accounts by notifying the bank of the death or securing personal property by limiting access to the house. Once the assets are identified and secure, the trustee or personal representative can continue administering the estate.
Step two is notifying the beneficiaries of their status under the estate plan early in the process (30 to 60 days is considered a reasonable timeframe for notification by the courts). Further, beneficiary notification is required under Oregon law. This is also an important step because (as is often true) no one likes being left in the dark. Waiting to notify everyone can cause beneficiaries to feel less comfortable with how the estate is being managed. By notifying everyone early on, beneficiaries often feel included and have fewer concerns surrounding the administration process. It is important to remember that the administration process is new to everyone and that by maintaining transparency, the long wait between a loved one passing and seeing their wishes carried out is less stressful.
Step three is the core of the administration process and varies depending on the estate. Often, the trustee or personal representative will need to take additional steps to access and value the estate’s bank, investment, and retirement accounts, as well as personal and real property. During this phase, the personal representative or trustee will also identify and pay any outstanding debts, receive any income, verify that all income taxes have been paid, and determine if any estate tax is due. This information will then be compiled into a report for the beneficiaries to review before they receive their inheritance. This is another Oregon law requirement that serves to alleviate any beneficiary concerns with the administration process and provide transparency.
Step four is making distributions and closing out the administration. Once the trustee pays all expenses and the beneficiaries have agreed to the proposed distributions, property can finally be distributed. Adhering to this process before making distributions will ensure that all legal requirements are met, last wishes are carried out, and beneficiaries have the opportunity to voice concerns and participate in the administration process.
In the end, administering a loved one’s estate after they pass involves adhering to rules that you may not even be aware of and takes several months or more to complete. Consulting an attorney takes the mystery out of the process and allows trustees and personal representatives to proceed with confidence, knowing that they are carrying out their loved one’s wishes as intended and adhering to Oregon law.
Forward Our Webinar Sign Up Link!
We have made it easy to share information to your family, friends and clients about our live Estate Planning Webinar that occurs twice a month. It’s a great way to get acquainted with Estate Planning and learn about wills, trusts, incapacity planning, planning to avoid state and federal estate taxes when you pass, and so much more! Simply copy and paste the link below and start the journey of estate planning with us!
If you are interested in joining our next complimentary estate planning webinar, you can do so by clicking here.
Comments From Our Clients…
“Thank you all so much for the support during this time! You’ve made a difficult process just a little easier.” – Christy K.
“…created a detailed estate plan covering even more than we had anticipated. Everything was completely and clearly explained…” – Robert M.
“Great experience with all staff navigating a difficult topic! Highly recommend Myatt & Bell PC.” – Katrin G.
A Little About Us…
Melissa Graveson – Trust Administration Attorney
What is your favorite book?
It depends on what I have read recently, but I love a good story whether its autobiographical or fiction. Right now, my top pick is The Ocean at the End of the Lane
What is your favorite food?
I love sampling new food any chance I get, but my favorites are always tiramisu for dessert, and tacos for dinner.
What do you like to do for fun?
I enjoy getting out and going on nature walks when the weather is nice, and when its rainy or cold putting together a puzzle and sewing.
Melissa’s Favorite Tortellini Salad Recipe
- 1 pack of 9oz Cheese Tortellini
- 1 cup of broccoli
- 1 cup cauliflower
- 2 small carrots
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2 Tablespoons green onion
- ½ cup Italian salad dressing
- 2 ounces parmesan cheese
- Cook and drain tortellini
- Finely chop broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and green onion and place in large bowl along with minced garlic
- Mix tortellini in with vegetables and garlic
- Mix Italian dressing in and add parmesan to top
- Best served chilled
Families choose Myatt & Bell to design their estate plans with honest optimism and meticulous attention to detail.
Do you have feedback for us?
Our ask of you – continue to give us feedback about your experience with M&B, and tell us how we can improve and better meet your needs.
And, if you run into someone who needs help with a will or trust with honest optimism and meticulous attention to detail, tell them about Myatt & Bell, P.C.!