Areas of Practice
Listed below is a brief explanation of each of the
areas of practice of Carl Jepsen.
1. Estate Planning
Effective and practical estate planning should start
before a person is in crisis. This allows the client to
give sufficient thought to their needs and goals and
allows the client to adequately explain their needs and
goals to their attorney. The attorney’s job is to provide
the tools to accomplish those goals in the manner that the
client desires by preparing various documents including,
wills, codicils, trusts, durable powers of attorney, and
advance directives together with sound advice on the
distribution of estate assets.
2. Probate Administration
Probate is a legal process that requires court oversight
for the distribution of the assets left by a deceased
person’s will, or if there is no will, in accordance with
the law of intestate succession, which provides specific
rules of distribution based upon the degree of kinship of
those heirs who survive the decedent. In a formal probate
proceeding a personal representative, sometimes called an
executor, is appointed by the court to administer the
estate. The personal representative’s primary duties are
to (1) discover preserve and collect all of the estate
assets, (2) identify all interested persons in the estate
including heirs, devisees and creditors, and (3) and
distribute assets to the devisees under the will or the
heirs in accordance with the law of intestate succession.
The probate process can take a significant amount of time.
The average time is around eight months to a year and a
half. It can also involve considerable expense in terms of
attorney’s fees, fiduciary fees and other costs of
administration. The personal representative is held to a
high standard of care and can be held personally
responsible for any negligence or malfeasance in the
conduct of the affairs of the estate. Even in simple
estates, personal representatives have many duties to
perform. If the Probate is in Multnomah or Clackamas
County, the Personal Representative will be required by
the court to take a class on being a Personal
Representative as a condition of appointment.
3. Trust Administration
Trust administration is very much like probate
administration except that there is no court oversight.
The trustee has essentially the same responsibilities as
the personal representative, but has a greater degree of
flexibility in administering the estate which means that
the cost of administration is usually significantly less
and the time from start to finish is significantly shorter
than most probates. Another major difference between trust
administration and probate administration is that the
trust administration is completely private. Probate is
open to the public and the court records are open for
review by anyone who chooses to look at them. Those
records include inventories of assets as well as the names
of beneficiaries. Many people find this to be an invasion
4. Estate Related Litigation
Unfortunately, estates can be the subject of litigation.
This type of litigation may include challenging the legal
capacity of the decedent, or claiming the decedent signed
his estate planning documents under undue influence, fraud
or duress. Litigation may also occur when the proposed
personal representative or trustee is alleged to be unfit
to serve or that a personal representative or trustee has
engaged in negligent or willful misconduct in the
administration of the proceedings. Litigation is
expensive. Litigation brings out the worst in people.
Litigation is very time-consuming. And it rarely results
in a truly satisfactory conclusion.