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Kent Estate Administration and Probate Law Blog

Artwork should be included in estate plan

Many Kent area residents are art aficionados. Some may even have the funds to afford to invest in valuable pieces of artwork. If this is the case, then it is important for that artwork to be included in an estate plan.

Artwork is a valuable part of a family's estate plan because it can affect the overall value of the estate. The artwork can lead to inheritance or estate taxes that may not have been considered. Depending on market conditions, valuable artwork can have a range of value and this can change dramatically each year.

Ways to leave money to grandchildren

Lots of Kent area residents have created an estate plan or have it on their to-do list. Many times an estate plan will include gifting money or property to heirs after a person dies. For lots of people it is important to them that their kids, grandchildren or other relatives are left with some of their estate.

There are several ways grandparents can leave money to their grandkids. One way is to gift them the annual exclusion gift while the grandparents are still alive. Each grandchild can be gifted up to $14,000 each year which can be excluded from the grandparent's estate. You can also put that $14,000 into a 529 plan for their college education. Grandparents can also set up a trust for their grandkids or the grandchildren can inherit the money outright. These options may have consequences for the grandchildren's college financial aid packages though.

There are many reasons why an estate plan should be updated

The start of a new year for Kent residents can be a great time to review important family documents. Although no one wants to think about what will happen to their assets and their heirs when they die, estate planning needs to happen to preserve the assets and create a legacy.

For Kent residents who already have an estate plan there are several reasons why it may need to be reviewed and updated. Family status updates will probably require an update. These include marriage, divorce or a new baby. An estate plan may also need to be updated if a family member gets a terminal cancer diagnosis or other serious disease. If a beneficiary or family member dies that information would need to be updated in an estate plan. A move from another state is another reason and finally if a family would like to update guardians for their children that would change an estate plan.

Will adding another baby change an estate plan?

Estate planning is generally used to protect assets and pass them down to the next generation. When parents have these documents in place they can feel secure about what will happen to their children if something unexpectedly happens to them. But does anything change if another child is added to the family? Would the will need to be amended?

In general, adding another child does not affect estate planning documents. But this is a good time to review estate planning documents like wills and trusts to see how the beneficiaries are listed. They will probably be listed as children or descendants but it is important to confirm that children who are born after the execution of the will are included. If the will lists a child by name, then the will should be updated with the new child's information. Beneficiary information on retirement accounts, bank accounts and other records should also be updated with the new child's information.

Choosing a power of attorney

There are many aspects to estate planning that are very important. Choosing a power of attorney is a very important and difficult decision. There are several factors that should go into choosing a power of attorney.

There can be a couple different ways a power of attorney can be used. First, the power of attorney can be appointed to make medical decisions and a power of attorney can be appointed to make financial decisions. A power of attorney designation has the legal responsibility to make important decisions in the event of a person's incapacitation. It is important to consider whether the appointed person is able to handle the specific power of attorney tasks that they would be given. If it is a financial power of attorney, making sure the person is financially responsible can be important. In addition, the chosen power of attorney should have the integrity and personality that makes sense for making important decisions regarding their health or money matters. Conflict may arise and the appointed person needs to make decisions based on the person's best interest and not based swayed by their own interests.

Digital estate planning an important consideration

Estate planning for Kent area residents is not just about who will inherit the house and retirement accounts. There are many other aspects of estate planning that need to be considered. These change over time, and this is why a family who has an existing estate plan needs to revisit it periodically. With technology, though, additional estate planning considerations have come to light. Now, online sites have popped up that offer a unique approach to storing information and making it available to others when it is needed.

Most people have digital presence. This can include everything from social media accounts to online bank accounts, but it can also be a great way to store a person's end of life wishes. There are several companies who offer a digital repository to store properly executed legal documents such as wills, power of attorney and health care directives. In addition, these sites may offer storage for family photos, information about what to do with pets, funeral wishes, how a person would like their obituary to read and even family recipes. They can offer many details that a will or trust properly prepared with the help of an experience attorney may not offer, including the exact healthcare procedures a person would want administered and who a person wants in the room when the person is close to death.

Helping Washington families navigate the guardianship process

When an adult family members are no longer able to care for themselves or vulnerable children are unable to make major decisions on their own behalf, a legal intervention because of incapacity might be required. Family members may find it difficult to navigate this unexpected and sudden situation; however, families in the Seattle area should understand that they have options available to them, helping them through this challenging time. Attorney Jennifer C Rydberg has worked closely with her clients, guiding them through these matters of guardianship and conservatorship.

There are various situations that might require guardianship. This often occurs when a child is named as a beneficiary in a litigation settlement, an adult family members are no longer able to care for themselves and do not have a power of attorney, a minor child lost a parent or a minor child receives an inheritance outside of a testamentary trust.

End of year gift giving for one's heirs

Many Kent area residents recognize the value of passing their assets on to their heirs. There are many ways that this can happen, but one way is through the tax strategy of gifting a certain amount to one's heirs each year. Now is the time to think about end of the year gifting.

There are some things to keep in mind when considering making end of the year gifts. Gifts can be made up to $14,000 to an individual without having to file a gift tax return. If a person goes over $14,000 in gift money, they may not have to pay taxes if under the lifetime limit but they need to report it. The gift amount is cumulative during the year. And the gift needs to be completed before the end of the year. A check needs to be cashed by the end of 2015 and stock needs to be in the recipient's name by December 31. If a person pays for a family member's medical expenses or educational expenses they may be considered 2503(e) gifts, which have different rules.

Animals may need to be included in a basic estate plan too

Many Kent area families have animals. These cats, dogs, birds, reptiles and other species are important parts of our families. But what happens to these animals after their owner's death? It can be important to include them in an estate plan as well when planning for the future.

For many families their pet is an important member of their family and a loyal companion. These pets are beloved companions for all ages, but can needlessly suffer if their owner passes away. If a family owns a pet they may want to include them in an estate plan. Many people don't think about what will happen to their pet if their pet outlives them. Often the pet will be abandoned at a local animal shelter. In order to avoid that scenario a plan needs to be put in place.

Sumner Redstone's medical care under attack

Many Kent area residents don't think about who will take care of them when they are no longer able to take care of themselves. It can be hard to picture a time when one cannot make decisions about their health care or communicate their wishes. But most of us will one day face that reality, and it is important to have health care directives in place.

Sumner Redstone's family is currently in a legal battle over his medical care. The 92-year-old media mogul who owns CBS and Viacom is currently embattled in a fight with a former girlfriend, who he dated Mr. Redstone from 1999 to 2001 and has maintained a friendship since then. Up until recently she was designated as who Mr. Redstone wanted making medical decisions for him. She is now claiming that Mr. Redstone can no longer make decisions and requires around-the-clock care. Mr. Redstone's attorneys say that he has been evaluated by a doctor and is in good spirits and able to make decisions. Mr. Redstone's former girlfriend is arguing that Mr. Redstone does not have adequate mental capacity to remove her from the estate planning documents, and she is demanding that she be placed back on as the person making his medical decisions. She was replaced by Viacom chief executive officer Phillippe Dauman.

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Jennifer C. Rydberg | Attorney at Law

Jennifer C. Rydberg
8407 S. 259th Street, Suite 203
Kent, WA 98030
Phone: 425-235-5535
Toll Free: 866-213-7556
Fax: 253-852-0400
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