Christopher S. Mulvaney, Esq.


When you think about what you want to happen to your property when you die, you may think all you need is a Will. A Will is not enough for many people in the Bellevue, Washington, area.  Most people don’t even have a Will, so you can give yourself a pat on the back if you do.

Estate Planning is about people; not just property.
I encourage you to think about the emotions and relationships of your surviving loved ones first, and then consider how giving away property expresses how you feel about them and communicates your wishes for the remainder of their lives.  With that in mind, I think it becomes clear why listing sentimental items such as jewelry, art, antiques, photos, scrapbooks, and collectibles is especially important to how your surviving family members feel. It becomes clear why not making your Personal Representative post a bond or seek permission from the Court to act is important.  It becomes clear why appointing health care agents and giving them written instructions regarding serious health decisions is important.
Below is a form to complete so I can email you a draft of an estate plan for your review before we meet.

Preparation before meeting is key.
You will not have a basis for questions unless and until you have read the documents that I prepare for you based on the information you provide in the above form.  If we talked before you read the documents it would be like trying to plant seeds before preparing the soil.  There is a big difference between scattering seeds on the ground and planting seeds in tilled prepared soil.  Preparation makes all the difference.  I hope that makes sense.


  1. The documents indicating your agents and beneficiaries.
  2. Your records of assets and written communication to your agents.
  3. Verbal communication with your agents about your wishes.

Understanding Your Estate Planning Needs

A number of factors determine your estate planning needs and it is important for you to discuss your unique circumstances with a skilled lawyer. For almost all estate planning clients, I draft a:

  • Last will and testament, which will allow you to appoint the Personal Representative (Executor) of your Estate to serve without bond and with the power to act without Court intervention, and to name your own beneficiaries instead of those named by default by statute.
  • Financial power of attorney through which you select someone you trust to handle financial matters for you when you are not able to do so, which makes a potentially expensive and time-consuming guardianship proceeding less likely.
  • Health care power of attorney through which you choose people you trust to make health care decisions for you when you are unable to do so for yourself, which makes litigation about who has control and what they are authorized to do less likely. You also indicate your wishes regarding organ donation.
  • Living will or advance directive in order to state your wishes if you are in coma, doctors don’t believe you will come out of it, you are on life support, you have a feeding tube, and IV fluid. You state whether you want life support withdrawn, and whether you want your agent to be able to withdraw the feeding tube and/or IV fluid.

Many clients also benefit from a revocable living trust, which can allow them to:

  • Distribute gifts to young beneficiaries over time, helping them avoid mishandling a windfall.
  • Set guidelines for distributions to vulnerable people, such as those with disabilities or addictions, so that the assets or money will be used appropriately, and to their benefit.
  • Keep their estates private. Trusts bypass the probate process, through which your estate property would become a matter of public record.
  • Clarify separate and community property rights (sometimes in combination with a pre- or post-nuptial agreement) for the protection of spouses from each other in the event of divorce and potentially from creditors of the community.

Clients who own real estate also benefit from a transfer on death deed, which can allow them to:

  • Avoid probate on any real property they own; making home equity not subject to creditor claims.
  • Avoid estate tax on home equity.

Statutes and Resources.

Probate and Trust law is found in Title 11 of the Revised Code of Washington.

Self Help resources are available on

They have prepared the guide below.


Nolo also has estate planning information.


For married couples,  I would prioritize estate planning as follows:  If I could only have one document, I would get a transfer on death deed for $250; If I could have two, I would add powers of attorney for health for $100;  If I could have three documents, I would add powers of attorney for finances for $100; If I could have four, add a living will for $100;  If I could have five, add a last will and testament for $200; and if I could have six then I would add a revocable living trust for $500. The total cost adds up to $1,250.  However, if you get all of the documents then you get a discounted price of $950.  The discounted price is less than the already discounted price that legal insurance pays.  The $300 savings represents 24% off.

For single people, the transfer on death deed price is also $250, but the powers of attorney prices are $75, the will is $150, and the trust is $350. The total cost adds up to $900.  However, all documents are discounted to $750. The discounted price is also less than the already discounted price that legal insurance pays. The $150 savings represents a 17% discount.

I provide complimentary initial consultations regarding estate planning, bankruptcy, and real estate to potential clients. Please email me at to schedule your obligation-free consultation.

For more information, including Top 10 Estate Planning Pitfalls, consult my Blog.

14205 SE 36th St. Suite 100
Bellevue, WA 98006-1553


Phone: 425-998-6352
Fax: 425-223-3197

Get Directions

Mulvaney Law Offices,PLLC, is located in Bellevue, Washington, representing estate planning & probate, chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy, and real estate transactions clients in Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Bellevue, Redmond, Renton, Issaquah, Sammamish, Maple Valley, Burien, SeaTac, and throughout King, Snohomish and Pierce counties.