AREAS OF PRACTICE
Probate is the process in which a court oversees the distribution of property owned by a person at death ("the estate"), either in the manner set out in the deceased person’s will or, if there is no will, to next of kin in accordance with Oregon law. Not every estate requires probate and in some cases the probate process requires only the filing of a single court document. Unlike some states, Oregon's probate process is relatively fast and inexpensive. Most of the estate can be resolved in a year or less if the lawyer is experienced and knowledgeable. Whether it is a sizeable estate or a modest one, Mr. Lusk brings four decades of experience to the process. He can review your case and provide advice and needed assistance so that taxes and creditor claims are settled, and assets reach loved ones with a minimum of expense and delay.
GUARDIANSHIP and CONSERVATORSHIP
When someone is unable to provide self care or manage their property due to aging, health problems, or because they are under age, a guardian or a conservator of his or her estate may need to be appointed. These are called protective proceedings and the person appointed is called a fiduciary, because they have a high duty to act faithfully and with the best interest of the person whose care or property is entrusted to them. These cases are supervised by the probate court. Because a protective proceeding can involve the loss of significant personal rights, a very thorough process of notification and investigation by the court is undertaken and ongoing court supervision is necessary. In the case of a guardianship of an adult, the court will appoint a special investigator, called the "court visitor" to meet with the individual needing protection and to interview family, friends, and medical or other sources, and to file a report with the court. Dealing with an incapacitated loved one can be a difficult matter and requires sensitivity and expertise. Sometimes alternative solutions that meet the needs and concerns of all involved can be found. Mr. Lusk represents persons seeking appointment as guardian or conservator, as well as those for whom appointment of a fiduciary is being sought.
WILLS AND TRUSTS
It is vital to have proper estate planning documents in place to speak for your wishes after your death. Wills and trusts are the principal documents for making your wishes known. A will is a document by which you name the person you want to administer your estate, and specify how, and to whom, you want your property distributed. Without a will, Oregon statutes spell out which relatives receive your property and the proportion to each. An unregistered domestic partner, friends, charities, and even your pets, will not be provided for if you do not have an estate planning device that names them as beneficiaries. Each state has its own laws for making a valid will and internet based products frequently do not meet Oregon's requirements. In Oregon a will can not be hand-written or simply notarized, but requires two witnesses who observe the signing. Although there is no such thing as a "simple will," most wills can be prepared inexpensively and a properly prepared will gives you peace of mind that is invaluable. If you are interested in a will, please see the estate planning questionnaire in the forms section. A trust is similar to a will in that it establishes how your property is distributed after death and appoints a trustee to oversee your trust. However, unlike a will a trust can provide for the lifetime management of you and your property if you become unable to manage them yourself due to incapacity. Unlike a will, which will require a probate proceeding to administer, in a trust where the assets are titled properly, a probate proceeding should be unnecessary. A trust also has the benefit of not being made public, whereas a will becomes part of the court record if a probate proceeding is needed. Trusts are more costly to set up, but typically are much less expensive to administer than a probate. For more information on trusts, please download the PDF form titled "Revocable Living trust Information" in the forms section.
The end of a marriage is a difficult time and having a knowledgeable attorney to guide you through the process is invaluable. Custody of the children, how to divide property and retirement accounts, and support of children and spouses are issues that need the help of a skilled attorney. Mr. Lusk has helped clients navigate their divorces for more than 30 years and welcome the opportunity to assist you. Please see the form "How We Will Handle Your Divorce" in the Forms section for detailed information of divorce, modification and custody issues. Parents involved in custody disputes in Oregon are required to attend parent education programs; each county has its own program. Also, mediation services are provided to help parents reach agreement on custody and parenting time issues where possible and avoid the need for a trial. For more information on mediation and parent education, see our links section.