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Kent Estate Administration and Probate Law Blog

What we can learn from Prince's lack of an estate plan

Most Kent area residents know about the recent death of music superstar Prince. Although Prince was only 57-years-old when he died, it does not appear that he had an estate plan or a will to indicate how his property should be distributed.

Lots of people may find it surprising that Prince did not have an estate plan. Many assume that those who have a lot of assets have taken the time to work out what would happen to them upon their death. But celebrities are a lot like us and also don't want to think about an untimely death. Many people don't believe that an estate plan is necessary or they put off creating one until it is too late.

A health care advocate is a valuable member of an estate plan

An estate plan can ensure that a family's assets will be protected for generations to come. That is an important part of any good estate plan, and it can reduce anxiety about a family's future. But other important parts of an estate plan are more personal and immediate. In addition to plans for property distribution, good estate plans should include health care directives.

An advanced health care directive is a legal document that spells out medical decisions that need to be made in a crisis situation when a person is unable to communicate their wishes.

Estate planning and philanthropy

Many Kent residents have a deep appreciation for the arts, religion and other non-profit organizations. These are values that they find important to support with their money and other gifts. Although many people think estate planning is about passing their assets on to their heirs, it can also be creating a legacy for years to come by passing assets on to a nonprofit organization.

Many Kent area residents give each year to charitable organizations. Many times it is because they are asked to give and the range of organizations can vary greatly in a family. From the arts, to health care, religion, animal causes and everything in between there seems to be a charity for anything a person can imagine. An estate plan is a wonderful way to plan out a person's deliberate charitable donations.

Tips for dividing family heirlooms

Almost all Kent area residents have items that are special to them and their family. These items can include jewelry, artwork, pottery and many other items. When the time comes to create an estate plan including a will and family trust there are things to keep in mind when deciding how to divide these family heirlooms.

If there is not a will in place when a person dies there can be many disagreements among family members and beneficiaries as to whom receives these heirlooms. There are a few ways to distribute heirlooms after a death without a will. One way is to use a lottery system where pieces of paper with numbers are placed in a bucket and the heirs take turns selecting a piece of paper and what item they want according to the number that they have drawn. Another way is the owner of the property puts names on the items before they die indicating who they want to have those pieces.

Basic power of attorney information

Most Kent area residents are not thrilled at discussing what would happen to them or their estate if they become incapacitated. It makes sense, because who really ever wants to think about the end of their life or a time when they are not able to make decisions? But, that time will come for each of us and careful planning will ensure a person's needs and wishes are met including health care decisions.

A power of attorney is a personal representative who can act on the grantor's request if the person becomes incapacitated. The power of attorney document spells out what the person can do on the grantor's behalf. This can include financial business, paying of bills and other important tasks. If a person doesn't have a power of attorney set up a guardianship may need to be established which can be expensive. It is important to have a power of attorney before anything happens to a person so that they are prepared for the unexpected.

Keeping the family farm in the family

There are many families in the Kent area who have a connection to a family farm. There are still hundreds of family farms across Washington, many of them that have been in the same family for generations. Keeping these farms in the family is important for many residents and this can require planning and estate administration.

If a family is interested in keeping the family farm in the family it can require advanced estate planning. A farm is a business and a business succession plan is a good way to transition the farm to the next generation. When there isn't a business succession plan the farm may not be able to be passed on. In fact, only around 30 percent of family farms in the United States are passed to the next generation.

Establishing an estate plan

Most Kent area residents know how important an estate plan is, but making an estate plan can be a hard topic to discuss. No one really wants to think about their inevitable death and what will happen to their assets. But, by creating an estate plan, that may include a will, a person can have the peace of mind that the person's wishes will be honored.

An estate plan often involves many legal documents. These can include a will, trust, living will, power of attorney and beneficiary designations. Before an estate plan is created there are certain things that a person may want to think about. One thing that a person should consider is who they want to make important decisions if they become incapacitated. A person should also think about healthcare interventions and values and what they would want to have done to them.

Estate planning for those with Alzheimer's

Many Kent area residents know someone who has Alzheimer's or has a family member with this dreadful disease. Those with Alzheimer's require very specialized and expensive care. A well-developed estate plan including a will can make sure a family has the necessary resources available if their loved one becomes ill with a serious condition.

It can be difficult for a person with Alzheimer's to create an estate plan. If the person is not able to make decisions a conservator will need to be appointed to act on behalf of the person. The sooner a person with Alzheimer's makes a plan, the better. Until a court determines that a person lacks the ability to make decisions, that person has the right to make all decisions regardless of medical diagnosis. This can include the right to refuse assistance and medical treatment.

Aging parents should discuss their end of life wishes

It's inevitable that everyone in Kent, will one day have to face the end of their lives. Hopefully, it will be at a time when the person has lived a long and fulfilling life. At this time, many Kent residents have parents that are aging and, therefore, discussing end-of-life wishes such as a living will is important.

Children of aging parents may believe that their parents already have a plan in place for their end-of-life care and requests. Many think that their parents already have a will and other estate planning documents. Or, they think their parents have opinions about what will happen when they approach death and that their parents will bring it up one day. But, many parents are reluctant to bring up this topic with their children even though it is extremely important.

Estate planning documents that millennials need

Kent area residents often think about estate planning as something older people need to do to protect their assets. But everyone can benefit from estate planning, including millennials who could unexpectedly be affected by an accident or serious illness at any time. A living will is one such document that is extremely important.

For millennials, there are two important estate planning documents that they may want to draft. First, a millennial may want to look into an advanced health care directive. A car accident can adversely affect a person's life, for example, and major medical decisions may need to be made. It is important that a person knows who will be making these decisions and that they trust their decision making skills. An advanced health care directive comprises a living will and a health care proxy. The living will lays out a person's medical wishes if they are not able to communicate. The health care proxy is who a person chooses to legally make health care decisions for them. This can help make sure that families do not wind up in a disagreement.

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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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