How a Family Legal Plan is Like Cleaning a Messy Room


Messy rooms. We’ve all seen them. We’ve been responsible for plenty of our own.

The trouble with a messy room is that important things can be misplaced. Add a bit of confusion, or perhaps a dash of chaos, and when you need to find your keys or your phone, the messy room manages to take more of your time and be more of a hassle than if you had simply picked up your belongings in the  first place.

Having a family legal plan is basically like cleaning a messy room before a confusing or chaotic time. Investing in a family legal plan helps your loved ones know how and where things go in your room. For example, a family legal plan designates guardians to raise your children if your lives are unexpectedly cut short, and who you’d like to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf in case you are unable to do so. The decisions it takes to prepare a family legal plan usually aren’t difficult. The challenge is setting aside the time to make the decisions in the first place.

Family Legal Plan - Catalyst Law{We would like to thank the team at Portland’s Catalyst Law, LLC for providing and sponsoring this important post. Portland Moms Blog encourages all families to be prepared with a family legal plan.}

Intellectually, we know having a family legal plan matters. Forbes reported 67% of adult American women, ages 45-54, do not have wills. However, 88% of parents with children say that having a will matters because appointing guardians for their non-adult kids matters. 

The basics of a family legal plan

Here’s what you need to know to get started with a family legal plan:

  • Who should have initial custody of your children if the unexpected happens?
  • Who should care for your kids long-term if you and, if it applies, your spouse are unable to care for them until they are adults?
  • Who should make your financial and medical decisions if you cannot?
  • Are there any medical decisions you do not want made on your behalf?
  • What assets do you have and how should they be used if you depart this world?

In Oregon and Washington, estate taxes could add to the reasons to make a family legal plan. In Oregon, if your assets are valued over $1 million ($2 million per couple) when you pass away ($2 million per person or $4 million per couple in Washington), you’ll likely owe estate taxes. Consider the value of your home, retirement savings, and any death benefit from life insurance, and you’ll get a sense of how often the middle class faces estate taxes. Family legal planning could help you pass more of your assets on to your kids. Plus, the use of certain trusts can help protect your family’s privacy when you pass on, and they often make settling your affairs more efficient, too. 

We promise, trusts and estate planning aren’t just for the Downton Abbey crowd.

Counting the costs

Yes, investing in a family legal plan costs money. Unfortunately, when a family legal plan is not in place, there also can be costs–both financially for your family trying to sort out your affairs, and potentially emotionally as your loved ones try to determine your wishes, then carry them out.  

Catalyst Law, LLC helps families prepare individualized legal plans and assists socially conscious businesses and non-profit organizations do their good work. We recognize not all families can afford legal fees, and we’re testing a new model to make family legal plans more accessible to more people. This fall the firm will offer a sliding-scale, flat-fee program–including a small-group education session–to help qualified families prepare a family legal plan.

Because every family is different, Catalyst Law can provide a quote that reflects your family’s needs. In addition to the sliding scale fees based on income qualifications, Catalyst Law also offers three to six-month payment plans.

Take the next step

If you’d like to talk with our team we’d love to explore whether our services are a good fit for your needs. You can learn about our five-step family legal plan and pre-register for fall workshops here. And you can follow our firm’s effort to make legal services more accessible on our Facebook page.

As moms you have enough to worry about–including real-life messy rooms. Our hope is we can help you get some peace of mind about something you really can check off your list.

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Catalyst Law, LLC
4380 SW Macadam Avenue, Suite 190
Portland, OR 97239

You can use the Oregon State Bar Association’s lawyer referral program to find a lawyer, too. 

This is advertising material and is for your general educational information and is not intended as legal advice. Readers are responsible for obtaining legal advice applicable to their specific situations from their own legal counsel.