What is Estate Planning?

I hear this phrase a lot when meeting with parents for their initial appointment “I don’t know, what I don’t know”.

With sites like LegalZoom, BuildAWill, LegacyWriter, and more, the ability to create your Will has never been easier.

Or is it?

Think about the estate planning process being like a day rafting down a new stretch of river. Of course, you can read up about the river on your own. You can post your own questions online. You can even buy all of the equipment you think you will need.

But you are not traveling alone.  Each family member in your boat has different needs, different capabilities, different interests and as a result different questions need to be asked and additional equipment might need to be included.  I am an attorney, with a proven track record working with families such as your own and will know how to cater your personal experience to be as positive, informative and safe as possible. As your guide I will listen to your concerns, anticipate areas you may not have considered and put the correct gear in the boat helping to ensure that everyone has what they each need (whether adult or child) to feel comfortable, protected and educated.

An on-line Will template is not an attorney. The computer generated questionnaire cannot cannot give legal advice of any kind, cannot modify your answers in any way, cannot do any custom drafting that is responsive to your family’s particular set of facts, cannot think “outside the box”, cannot answer any questions and cannot suggest alternatives routes on the fly.

What on-line Will templates seem to want their customers to ignore, is the very simple fact that every family is special and unique. It is very important not to try acknowledge a family into a one-size-fits-all template document.

An attorney is crucial to the personalized and educated planning process. An estate planning attorney knows the questions to ask, and knows what to do with the answers and if a follow up question is necessary. A legal guide can read the hesitation in a parent’s voice or the sideways glance as they struggle to decide who to choose as guardian, trustee or personal representative.

The planning starts with completing a family questionnaire. But those answers are only a starting place to begin a more comprehensive back and forth discussion (not possible with a computer generated form). The in person initial appointment and follow up reviews are where you really get to the heart of what concerns parents have and how best to address them.

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Happy to share my most recent NW Kids Magazine Post.

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Amy has a great blog at the Oregonian. Please feel free to take a peak.

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Thank you NW Kids Magazine for asking me to be a contributing author. Looking forward to submitting future posts about Estate Planning for New Parents.


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Michelle-Shari Kruss J.D. (Krusslaw, a boutique Lake Oswego law firm), has more than 18 years of legal-experience. Michelle-Shari is a well-known estate planning attorney helping parents protect their most precious asset: their children. She is a past Juvenile Peer Court Judge, author, frequent guest lecturer, sits on a variety of non-profit boards and is the parent of two lovely children.

Michelle-Shari’s objective is to develop lifelong relationships with her clients, not short-term engagements. It is her goal and the goal of her firm to make the estate planning process as easy, comfortable and enjoyable as possible. The most important qualities she brings to the creation of her client’s documents–besides all the education, training, experience and knowledge—is being a good listener, explaining the myriad of concepts and terminology in simple and straightforward language and preparing personalized Wills that reflect each family’s individual wishes and goals.

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When can minors give consent to medical treatment without a parent/guardian?

Oregon law states that minors who are at least 15 years of age can consent to a variety of medical services without consent from a parent or legal guardian (ORS 109.640). 109.640).

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Please feel free to take a look at these links.

Please also note that there may have been changes to this area of law since each of these summaries were published.





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How wonderful it is that nobody needs to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world” Anne Frank

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Invited to Podcast on Dads Who Diaper

Hi Michelle-Shari,
I hope you’re having a great week! Just wanted to let you know the
podcast and post is up! I want to thank you again for helping us and
being apart of our “team”. Hope you like it, I’ve pasted the link below.
Twitter: @dadswhodiaper
Facebook: facebook.com/dadswhodiaper
Disney Baby: http://www.disneybaby.com/contributors/chad-carter/

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