Money Matters: Estate Planning

Sponsored by Oregon Pacific Bank.

Why business owners should establish an estate plan

By Kelli Warner & Paul Johnson

Starting a company and watching it grow while focusing on day-to-day challenges is difficult enough. Like many business owners, Dana Turell began to think about what might happen if the worst were to occur. “It’s kind of uncomfortable to talk about finance and the eventuality of my death or incapacity,” she admits.

Dana is the founder of Turell Group, a thriving creative services agency in Eugene. “I have a team of people, and I want to make sure they’re taken care of,” she says.

Dana turned to the Trust Department at Oregon Pacific Bank for advice. Tami Calkin, a trust officer, was happy to help.

What is an estate plan?

An estate plan is a set of legal documents that outline how to take care of business and personal assets, and how they must be distributed. Tami says clients often find it helpful to talk through an estate plan with an experienced trust officer before consulting with a lawyer.

“Talking to a trust officer can help you get your thoughts organized, help you think through some of the issues that are going to come up, so that when you go into the attorney, you’re ready to answer their questions and move forward,” she says. “It can make your time with your attorney more efficient and effective.”

Trust officers can also serve as a second set of eyes to help you review the estate plan your attorney drafts and to execute that plan when the time comes.

Developing a 5-year estate plan

Because planning for a distant future might be daunting, Tami says, OPB encourages clients to develop a 5-year plan. Establishing a short-term plan is more likely to be time well spent than focusing on longer time frames.

“Tax laws change, your situation is going to change,” she says. “Don’t plan for 20 years from now, plan for the near term.”

Dana says thinking about all the possibilities years down the road was overwhelming. “If I only have to think about five years from now, that’s much easier for me,” she says.

As your needs change, Tami says, your estate plan can change. Clients should continue to review and update their plans to ensure they’re on track. “Almost all estate plans that you put in place are changeable, as your life needs change, and your assets change and your priorities change.”

Why do you need an estate plan?

According to Forbes magazine, 30 percent of business owners do not have an estate plan, either because they don’t feel they need one or because the topic feels too difficult to tackle.

If you don’t have an estate plan in place, Tami says, courts will rely on legal precedence and regulations to divide your assets, which is why it’s important to make plans now.

Estate plans are unique to each person, so taking the time to assess individual priorities is crucial, Tami says. “It’s very personal. Everybody’s assets, everybody’s priorities are different.”

Putting an estate plan in place

Dana says working with Tami has given her some peace of mind in developing a plan for both her business and her personal affairs related to loved ones.

“It’s good to have someone on the other side of the table who can be a guide,” she says. “Meeting with the trust officer at Oregon Pacific Bank has been very efficient and helpful, and I’m really glad I did it.”

Learn more about creating an estate plan and the benefits of working with an experienced Trust Officer at bankonopb.com. Review this helpful list of questions to consider when putting together your custom estate plan.

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