Under Oregon law, certain major life events cause a big effect on a person’s estate planning documents. For example, divorce by a person revokes all provisions of the person’s will in favor of the former spouse and the effect of the will is the same as though the former spouse predeceased. However, a divorce may not automatically revoke beneficiary designations in retirement accounts, life insurance and other such assets. Additional paperwork may be needed. Also, a divorce does not revoke other provisions of a will in favor of members of the former spouse’s family, such as children of the former spouse.

Therefore, a divorce is an event which should prompt a thorough review of a person’s estate plan.

Secondly, Oregon law generally provides that marriage revokes a person’s existing will. Therefore, persons who have not reviewed their previous estate planning documents following a subsequent marriage should do so, as in most cases they will need to execute new estate planning documents following the marriage.

Other events which would warrant a consultation with an estate planning attorney would be:

1. Death of a family member or significant change in health;

2. Changes involving persons who have been appointed as personal representatives, trustees or guardians;

3. Moving from another state or country to Oregon.

Finally, persons who have not had their estate plan reviewed since the major changes in estate taxes in recent years should do so. Wills and trusts drafted prior to those changes should be reviewed to see if there is a more advantageous approach which should be used as allowed under the new laws.

Bruce Coalwell has been an attorney in Roseburg since 1981 and is a shareholder in the law firm of Dole Coalwell, P.C.

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