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Christopher S. Mulvaney, Esq.


It is a common misconception to describe the initial draft of estate planning documents to be “generic.”  This could not be any farther from the truth.  The draft of the documents that I prepare is from a template that I created and continuously revise and update based on client questions and experiences.  The draft incorporates the collective experience of the several thousand estate plans that I have prepared.
The documents will be edited in a ZOOM meeting after I answer your questions and we discuss issues.  However, the most important parts of estate planning are your loved ones, your documentation, and your communication and relationships.  The documents simply tell third parties who you want to carry out your wishes and what your wishes are.  They are like the outside of your house – public.  The letter of instruction, documentation, communication, and relationship strengthening are like the inside of your home – private.
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.
It is best to discuss a draft in a ZOOM meeting because that is the closest to you being across the desk from me, and us looking at the shared documents together.  If that is not what you are looking for that is fine.  You can look for another referral to assist you the way you would like.  I wish you the best of luck.  You finding what you are seeking is what is important.  To proceed in a manner that I do not believe is the best practice would not be good for either of us.  Initial transparency so that you can make an informed choice is the goal.


      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 (a quitclaim deed is $200 ) (plus $125 for electronic recording); (The second most valuable estate planning tools are beneficiary designations, which are free.)  If I could have two documents prepared, I would add powers of attorney for health and finances for $100 each;  If I could have three documents, I would add a living will and mental health advance directive for $100 each;  If I could have four, add a last will and testament for $200; and if I could have five then I would add a revocable living trust for $500. The total cost adds up to $1,475 with a discount for purchasing multiple documents.  

For single people, the transfer on death deed price is also $250 (plus $125 for recording) , but the powers of attorney prices are $75 each, the living will and advance directive is $75 each, the will is $100, and the trust is $350. The total cost adds up to $975 with a discount for purchasing multiple documents.   



For the traditional method of in-person signing and notarization we can discuss all of the changes, make them,  and then I can print out the documents, watch you sign them with a pen, and notarize with my stamp, and sign with ink, before scanning, so that you have a paper original, and an electronic copy.
This method has been supplanted by electronic signatures and notarization which applies whether clients come into my office in person or sign remotely via DocVerify.  Electronic signatures can be authenticated with software.  Regular pen and ink signatures cannot.  Electronic signatures require an image of a driver’s license (or passport or other ID), and a separate email address for each signer.
If you come into the office, after all changes are made I will upload the documents to DocVerify.  Then I will place all of the signatures, dates, and notary stamps on the document and invite you to sign via clicking on an email invitation.  Once you log in and click to sign then the documents are complete.  I will make a ZOOM recording of the execution appointment because DocVerify does not record in person signing.
Electronic signing and remote online notarization is different, and slower.
A ZOOM appointment prior to a DocVerify execution appointment is necessary.  They cannot be done together.
The documents are never printed.  We describe what we are doing since the video does not include the document itself like it does in ZOOM.
I cannot see you clicking to place your electronic signature.  Remote online notarization requires me to have an image of your driver’s license in my file in advance.
You have to tell me any and  all changes well in advance of the signing appointment.  Once the documents are uploaded to DocVerify they cannot be changed.  The documents have to be uploaded in advance of the appointment or else you would be watching me place each signature, the date, and the notary stamp on each signature page of the document.
There is no original and copy like for paper signing, there is simply the one electronically created document that can be verified as authentic.  All copies of electronic documents are, in effect, duplicate originals.