DEBORAH R. LUSH

“MY TAX WORK AS AN ESTATE AND RETIREMENT PLAN LAWYER is the perfect blend for my personality because it allows me to care for my clients in a meaningful way while challenging my mind at the same time. I love to hear the hearts of my clients and to find strategies that honor their values in their personal estate or business.”

About Me

I love my work. I love working with my clients. Somewhat sheepishly, I confess that I dreamed about becoming a tax lawyer as a child. My tax work as an estate and retirement plan lawyer is the perfect blend for my personality because it allows me to care for my clients in a meaningful way while challenging my mind at the same time. I love to hear the hearts of my clients and to find strategies that honor their values in their personal estate or business.

Family. The time I spend with my family and the faith we share is the energy behind my professional life. My husband J. and I are the proud parents of two boys, Atticus and Becket. We readily admit their names are unusual. We chose namesakes for each of them who showed strong character and a willingness to stand up for one’s beliefs. Atticus is named after Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Becket is named after Thomas a’ Becket, the 12th century Archbishop of Canterbury who stood up to King Henry II. Together, the four of us live a very active lifestyle; we love to go hike, backpack and travel as frequently as we can throughout Oregon and to other sunnier locations.

Community. When J. and I moved here in 1999 so I could attend law school at Willamette University College of Law, we didn’t intend to stay – but then, we didn’t know anything about Salem-Keizer or the Willamette Valley. We are grateful to Salem-Keizer for the balance of life we have found here. Out of gratitude and our faith, we want to do our part to make this the healthiest community in Oregon. You will see us around at different community events, meetings, or social functions.

Runner at heart. My day isn’t complete without a run. I have been running marathons — more than 20 — with Gallaghers’ Fitness Resources, our local running store, for over ten years. When asked which marathon is my favorite, Boston is always on the top of my list. I couldn’t get enough so I ran it three years in a row. Aside from Boston, I enjoy the smaller marathons, like the ones in Napa Valley and Newport, Oregon.

Estate Planning

There is no cookie-cutter estate plan; each family is different. Because of this, I take time with my clients to hear their values and goals to tailor them into an estate plan that allows them to transfer wealth to the next generation in a meaningful way. My goal is for each client to walk away with a complete understanding of how the estate plan works and why it all matters.

Probate and Trust Administration

When the next generation comes in after a death in the family, it is a difficult time. I am sensitive to the needs of the family, listening to their goals and respecting their timing. I seek to help the family find ways to alleviate the legal burden that rests on them to transition their loved one’s wealth according to his or her wishes.

Taxable Estate Planning / Charitable Gift Planning

I enjoy educating clients about Oregon and federal estate taxes and/or charitable gift planning, including the numerous rules and regulations that apply to each client’s case. Together, my clients and I find collaborative solutions to “taxing” problems.

Retirement Plans

I work with businesses of all sizes to design an appropriate retirement plan for the business that maximizes tax savings and minimizes costs. My partners and I have together drafted the area’s only locally written IRS-approved plan document. We advise clients regularly regarding retirement plan compliance matters. I frequently work with plan sponsors to correct any inevitable mistakes that occur while maintaining the plan. I also represent plan sponsors that are faced with an IRS or DOL audit.

QDROs

As a part of my retirement plan practice, I write many QDROs (qualified domestic relations orders), the specialized orders required by federal law to divide a retirement plan upon divorce. My in-depth knowledge of pension plans and other retirement plans helps me efficiently and effectively assist clients with accomplishing this necessary task. Every order to divide retirement benefits is unique, and I enjoy strategizing the best result for my clients. I regularly write QDROs for clients not only in the Salem-Keizer area but throughout Oregon. I assist with retirement plan divisions through Oregon.

Community Support

My husband J. and I both volunteer our time, energy, and money to the local community (and beyond), which we find very rewarding. My community support is a reflection of my law school alma mater’s motto: “Not unto ourselves alone are we born.” – Cicero Some of my community activities include:

Education

Willamette University College of Law – 1999-2002, cum laude, seventh in class

  • Willamette Law Review, Associate Editor
  • Moot court board – First place, First year appellate competition
  • Tutored first year law students in legal research and writing
  • Worked for Heltzel Williams as law clerk

Point Loma Nazarene College – 1994-1998, magna cum laude

  • Major: history, with an emphasis in philosophy and literature
  • Graduated “with distinction” after 100+ page paper cleared three-professor review panel
  • Summer term: Keble College, Oxford University
  • Sole student selected on college board committee to change school name
  • Finance Director, ASB Student Body; Resident Director; other student government positions

Resources

Professional Presentations:

  • “QDRO Tips and Traps” – 2013, Multnomah County Bar Association Family Law Group
  • “QDRO Tips and Traps” – 2013, Marion County Bar Association Family Law Group
  • “Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts” – 2011, Willamette Valley Estate Planning Council
  • “From JTWROS to GRATS: Estate Planning Basics,” co-speaker Barbara Jo Smith – 2011, Mid-Willamette Valley Tax Forum
  • “IRS and DOL Compliance Resolution Program, Alphabet Soup Anyone?” – 2005, Mid-Willamette Valley Tax Forum