ESTATE PLANNING & PROBATE ATTORNEY IN BELLEVUE
THREE PARTS TO ESTATE PLANNING
- The documents indicating your agents and beneficiaries.
- Your records of assets and written communication to your agents.
- 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 You state whether you want life support withdrawn, and whether you want your agent to be able to withdraw the feeding tube and/or IV fluid.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 WashingtonLawHelp.org.
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.