THIS WEBSITE INCLUDES GENERAL INFORMATION & THE OPINIONS OF CHRISTOPHER S. MULVANEY.
THESE ARE INTENTED TO STIMULATE A BASIS FOR QUESTIONS RELATED TO YOUR PARTICULAR FACTUAL CIRCUMSTANCES – BEFORE YOU ACT.
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ESTATE PLANNING & PROBATE ATTORNEY IN BELLEVUE
What is estate planning? It is the general term that applies to a range of documents designed to allow your loved ones to handle financial and health decisions if you are unable to do so, and to allow your loved ones to administer your estate (take inventory of everything owned and owed on the date of death, pay taxes, pay creditors, and distribute the remainder to beneficiaries) after you die.
These documents include: powers of attorney for finances and health, living wills, advance directives, revocable living trusts, transfer on death deeds, quitclaim deeds, beneficiary designations and Wills.
Before discussing practical aspects of Estate Planning I would like to give an overview of what I see as the purposes and benefits of planning which I hope will guide you through the process more effectively.
Something like two-thirds of people do no planning for when they pass away. The majority of people put their head in the sand and pretend they are never going to die. That is why, I believe, there are so many disputes and horror stories including litigation and estrangement involving Estates. If you do no planning, it is not surprising that more things are likely to go wrong. So, the primary purposes of Estate Planning as I see them are:
(1) Promoting family harmony and reducing the likelihood of disputes by getting your family on the same page as to your wishes, so that your are more likely to be carried out peacefully preserving the cohesiveness of your surviving loved ones.
(2) Reducing anxiety and increasing your sense of being organized and in control of your life by taking an inventory of the people, property, and debt you have, and your wishes and goals.
(3) Increasing gratitude and kindness through mortality awareness. If you keep in mind who and what is important to you in your life, it can aid in making decisions consistent with your values, and can increase your sense of well being. Mortality awareness can bring perspective and peace.
(4) Projecting the love you have for your family and friends beyond your lifetime, so that your surviving loved ones feel loved long after you are gone. For example, my grandfather died in 1978 and my grandmother died in 1991. I carry their love for me today. I feel a comforting connection to my past along with the loss.
(5) Thinking about how you would like to be remembered, your legacy, can decrease the likelihood of bad decisions and increase the chances of making choices for which you and your loved ones can be proud. If you don’t want to be remembered as an angry or abusive person, for example, thinking about the positive effect you could have on your loved ones by changing your behavior can be motivation to change.
Notice that none of these purposes involve passing on property. That is the least important of reasons for doing an Estate Plan. I believe Estate Planning is for everyone, no matter how little property you have or no matter how small your circle caring is. Estate Planning is life planning. It is communication with people you are there for and who are willing to be there for you. Letting people know how much you care about them, and that you count on them, and that they can count on you is empowering. If you put people above property at all times, and make your wishes about your property serve to communicate a token of your love then you will stay true to who and what you are and not get distracted by things that don’t matter. Treasure what matters to you. Celebrate and be grateful for it. Do Estate Planning to pass that Love that transcends Death on to your surviving loved ones.
PRICES – Since Cost is often one of the first questions, below are Attorney’s Fees & Costs.
For married couples, I would prioritize estate planning as follows:
If I could only have one (1) document type, I would get a Transfer on Death Deed (TODD) for $300 (most valuable by far);
(Quitclaim Deeds are $350 to prepare and $300 to record for a total cost of $650 each);
(The second most valuable estate planning tools are beneficiary designations, which are free);
The Powers of Attorney for Finances & Health, Living Wills and Advance Directives are $75 each ($300 total);
The Revocable Living Trust is $400;
The total cost adds up to $1,300 including electronic recording of a Transfer on Death Deed by email in two (2) days.
The $300 cost of recording a Deed is reimbursement of what it costs me to record.
Recording costs are fixed and irrelevant to legal insurance.
I am not making money from cost reimbursement; I just do electronic recording as a convenience to clients so they don’t have to wait four (4) months and pay postage both ways to record by mail.
All meetings are via ZOOM. All signing and notarization is via DocVerify because ZOOM is not an authorized vendor for remote online notary services pursuant to the 2020 statute.
I will invite you to DocVerify from ZOOM and try to make the transition as smooth as possible.
The documents will all be in one continuous document for the purposes of search and replace on the draft and signing.
After placing the location of the signatures and notary seal, and you typing in your signature and initials, all that is required is for you to say on video that you wish to sign and everything is instantly signed and notarized.
After signing, I will separate the documents into their useful parts so you can use them. You will receive the Trust, Deeds, Powers of Attorney for Finances and Health, Living Wills and Advance Directives as attachments as well as a link to the encrypted Dropbox folder where the documents are kept. You can send the attachments and/or the link to your Successor Trustees and Agents.
It is a whole new way of doing things. It has the same legal effect as signing with a pen and stamping with an ink notary stamp in person in my office, but you don’t have to drive here and you don’t have to do anything to sign other that say it is your wish to sign. The rest is electronic confirmed by video and your matching photo ID.
Estate Planning is about people and relationships –
Something you need to understand is that the standard forms themselves are of very little value. You can get the forms for free. Not just from MetLife, but from other online providers (such as the website with the statutory language for the forms). The value is in the understanding of what everything in the process means, and how to use that understanding for the benefit of yourself and your family and the relationships amongst everyone you list in your estate plan. You can’t get that from a form.
My forms are vastly better than free forms, and contain many links to additional information. One reason they are better is that they are continuously modified based on the questions and reactions of several thousand previous clients. The mistakes of previous clients are listed as warnings to future clients. No free “boilerplate” form can do that.
I look forward to meeting you and explaining how to get the most out of your estate planning documents.
Christopher S. Mulvaney’s Mission:
To Always Be a Human Being First, and My Role Second.