Welcome to our FAQ page.
Here we provide general answers to commonly asked questions and terminology about estate planning and administration, small business and nonprofit organizations.

General Questions

What is estate planning and why is it important?

Estate planning refers to the process of creating a comprehensive plan for the management and distribution of your assets and wealth during your lifetime and after your death. It involves making decisions about who will inherit your assets, how your healthcare and financial affairs will be managed if you become incapacitated, and how your loved ones will be taken care of. Estate planning is crucial because it allows you to have control over the distribution of your assets, minimize potential conflicts among family members, protect your assets from unnecessary taxes and expenses, and ensure your wishes are carried out according to your intentions.

What are the key elements of an effective estate plan?

The key elements of an effective estate plan typically include:

  • A will: A legal document that specifies how your assets should be distributed after your death and who will be responsible for managing the process.
  • Trusts: These are legal arrangements that allow you to transfer your assets to a trustee to be managed and distributed to your beneficiaries according to your instructions. Trusts can help avoid probate, provide for minor children or individuals with special needs, and protect assets from creditors.
  • Power of Attorney: This document designates someone you trust to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
  • Oregon Advance Directive: This is a document in which a person can (a) appoint an individual to make medical decisions for them if they are unable to do so; and (b) outline their preferences for end-of-life medical care, such as life support, resuscitation, and organ donation.
  • Beneficiary Designations: Ensuring that your assets with designated beneficiaries, such as life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and bank accounts, are up to date and aligned with your overall estate plan.
How can estate planning help minimize taxes and ensure the smooth transfer of assets to beneficiaries?

By engaging in estate planning, you can tailor your strategies to minimize taxes and maximize the value of your assets while ensuring that your loved ones are taken care of according to your wishes. It’s important to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to create a customized plan that suits your unique circumstances and goals.

Estate Planning

What documents are essential for a comprehensive estate plan?

Essential documents for a comprehensive estate plan include a will, trusts, power of attorney, healthcare proxy, living will, and updated beneficiary designations.

How often should I review and update my estate plan?

It is recommended to review and update your estate plan at least every three to five years or whenever significant life events occur, such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child, or a substantial change in financial circumstances.

What happens if I don’t have an estate plan in place?

Without an estate plan, your assets may be distributed according to state laws through a process called intestate succession. This can lead to unintended beneficiaries, potential disputes among family members, and unnecessary taxes and expenses. Having an estate plan ensures your wishes are honored, minimizes conflicts, and provides clarity and control over the distribution of your assets.

Estate Administration

What is estate administration and what does it involve?

Estate administration is the process, either by will, trust, or Oregon intestate statutes, of managing and distributing the assets and liabilities of a deceased person’s estate. It involves tasks such as identifying and gathering assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will, trust or Oregon intestate statutes  if there is no will or trust.

How long does the estate administration process typically take?

The duration of the estate administration process can vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of the estate, the presence of any disputes or litigation, and the efficiency of the executor or personal representative. On average, estate administration can take anywhere from several months to a year or longer.

What are the responsibilities of an executor or personal representative during estate administration?

The executor or personal representative has several responsibilities during estate administration. These typically include locating and securing assets, notifying creditors and beneficiaries, filing necessary legal documents with the court, managing financial accounts, paying debts and taxes, and distributing assets to beneficiaries. Executors are generally expected to act in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries, following the instructions outlined in the will and complying with applicable laws and regulations.

What are the responsibilities of a trustee during trust administration?

A trustee has the same responsibilities as an executor or personal representative during an estate administration with the exception of filing legal documents with the court. These typically include locating and securing assets, notifying creditors and beneficiaries, managing financial accounts, paying debts and taxes, and distributing assets to beneficiaries. Trustees are also expected to act in the best interests of the trust estate and its beneficiaries, following the instructions outlined in the trust and complying with applicable laws and regulations.

Small Business & Nonprofit Organizations

What is the process of forming a nonprofit organization or small business, and what are the key steps involved?

The process of forming a nonprofit organization or small business typically involves several key steps. These may include selecting a legal structure (such as a nonprofit corporation or limited liability company), registering the organization with the appropriate state agency, obtaining an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS, drafting bylaws or operating agreements, and fulfilling any additional local or industry-specific requirements.

What is a 501(c)(3) status, and how can my nonprofit organization obtain it?

501(c)(3) status is a designation granted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to nonprofit organizations that meet specific criteria. It provides tax-exempt status, allowing the organization to receive tax-deductible donations and potentially qualify for grants. To obtain 501(c)(3) status, a nonprofit organization must complete the IRS Form 1023 or Form 1023-EZ application, pay the required filing fee, and meet the IRS’s requirements for charitable, educational, religious, or other exempt purposes.

Are there any specific requirements or considerations for small businesses seeking to operate as a nonprofit entity or obtain tax-exempt status?

While small businesses can operate as nonprofit entities, it’s important to note that tax-exempt status under 501(c)(3) is specifically reserved for organizations engaged in charitable, educational, religious, scientific, literary, or other specific purposes. Small businesses seeking tax-exempt status must demonstrate how their activities align with these purposes. Additionally, there may be specific requirements and restrictions applicable to nonprofit businesses, such as limitations on private inurement (personal benefit) and engaging in excessive unrelated business activities. It’s advisable to consult with an attorney or tax professional who specializes in nonprofit law to understand the specific considerations and requirements for your small business.



A legal document that specifies how your assets will be distributed after your death.


A legal arrangement in which a person (the trustee) holds and manages assets on behalf of another person (the beneficiary).

Executor and Personal Representative

The person appointed in a will to carry out the instructions and wishes of the deceased.


A person or entity designated to receive assets or benefits from a will, trust, or life insurance policy.

Power of Attorney

 A legal document that grants authority to an individual (the agent) to make decisions or take actions on behalf of another person (the principal).


The formal legal process when a court appoints a legal representative who will administer the estate, pay valid creditors and distribute assets to the intended beneficiaries.

Testate and Intestate Estates

A “testate estate” means that the deceased person (decedent) left a valid will, which disposes of the decedent’s property. An “intestate estate” means that the decedent did not leave a valid will and the probate court will determine the distribution of the decedent’s property to heirs according to the state’s laws regarding inheritance.

Estate Tax

A tax imposed on the transfer of property after a person’s death, based on the total value of the estate.

Oregon Advanced Directive

A legal document that: (a) appoints a person to make medical decisions on behalf of another person if they become unable to do so themselves; and (b) outlines an individual’s preferences regarding medical treatments and life-sustaining measures in the event of incapacitation.


A legal arrangement in which a person (the guardian) is appointed to make decisions and care for another person (the ward), typically a minor or incapacitated adult.

Revocable Trust

Sometimes referred to as a “living trust,” this is a trust created during a person’s lifetime. It can be modified or revoked, allowing assets to be transferred outside of probate.

Irrevocable Trust

A trust that cannot be altered or revoked after it has been created, typically used for charitable and estate tax planning or asset protection.


The settlor is the trust creator and responsible for funding a trust with assets and laying out a plan for what happens to them — who receives them and when — in their trust document. “ Grantor and trustor are synonyms for the term “settlor.”


The trustee is the person or entity responsible for managing and administering the trust according to the terms set forth by the settlor. In most cases, the settlor also serves as the initial trustee, retaining control over the assets of the trust. However, the trust document designates successor trustees to take over the role if the settlor becomes incapacitated or passes away.