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Kent Estate Administration and Probate Law Blog

What is a community property agreement?

For married couples in the state of Washington there are many estate planning options. One option available for married couples and domestic partners is a community property agreement.

In Washington, married couples and domestic partners have the option to set up a community property agreement. A community property agreement can be a helpful estate planning tool. A CPA is unique from a will or a prenuptial agreement. It can greatly simplify estate planning for couples by automatically transferring all assets from a spouse who passed away to the surviving spouse. This allows the surviving spouse to avoid probate.

How to use charitable trusts to support great causes

Kent area residents often believe it's important to support their favorite charities. Charitable giving can also be part of estate planning. Once people takecare of their heirs via their estate plan, they may consider establishing a legacy of giving.

One way to incorporate charitable giving into an estate plan is to set up a charitable trust. There are generally two types of charitable trusts. The first is a charitable lead trust. A charitable lead trust is where the charity you choose receives the interest from the gift for a specific amount of time, like 10 or 20 years. After the time is up whatever is left in the trust goes to the beneficiary -- either an heir or back to the donor. A charitable lead trust works well to reduce the donor's taxable income and when the remainder of the trust is transferred back to the beneficiaries it can reduce the gift tax and estate taxes.

How can giving gifts help with tax benefits for heirs?

For many people, helping others is an important value in their lives. Many people in the Kent area give generously and hope that their legacy will include the generous contributions they have made to society. Giving gifts can also have tax advantages for givers and their heirs.

As part of estate planning many people consider giving gifts to loved ones and their favorite charities. Besides being a nice gesture for charities and loved ones, giving also allows for certain tax benefits by reducing your taxable estate. There are two ways for a person to give gifts without incurring the gift tax. The gift tax is applied for any amount that is given over $14,000. A person may give an unlimited amount for medical or educational expenses. This money must be given directly to the institution. Second, a person may give up to $14,000 annually to as many people as they want.

Does a trust make sense?

One important part of financial planning for Kent residents is estate planning. After working hard to build a strong portfolio. it is important to have a plan in place for asset preservation. So would a trust make sense in your situation?

Although many people believe trusts are something that only the very rich use, the truth is that they may make sense for anyone who has an estate of more than $100,000. If you have an estate of $100,000 or more, like many people do, or you have particular family circumstances, a trust may be a useful estate-planning tool.

The benefits of long term care planning

No one wants to think that they will get older and require medical care at some point in their lives. But, aging happens to all of us and it is best to have a plan, such as a living will, for these circumstances.

You can never know for sure if one day you will need long term care. Medical needs are unique for every person and the careful consideration of these needs can go a long way. In order to prepare for any medical needs you may have you should first think about what may happen if you become seriously ill or disabled. It is important to talk with friends and family about who would care for you if you have medical needs.

Have you talked to your children about your WA estate plans?

Washington family dynamics can always be a source of frustration for parents and their kids as well. Death is a difficult topic for anyone to talk about, but when family drama is brought into the situation, it can be commonly ignored. Estate planning is a critical topic to discuss with your family, but how can you discuss this commonly ignored topic?

The baby boomers are entering the final stages of their lives. With that comes trillions of dollars that their beneficiaries will inherit. But, just a small percentage of families have discussed financial plans with their kids. UBS recently did a study of their clients. Of those surveyed, over 80 percent had a will, but only half shared the will with their kids and a third discussed what their assets are with their kids. Around 50 percent of parents talk about inheritance with their kids. Although most parents want the transfer of assets to go smoothly when they die, without talking to the children, it could lead to family headaches.

Important tips regarding digital estate planning

It can be hard to stay on top of all of the changing media, electronic devices and social media websites. The majority of Americans have at least one kind of digital account like e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. But, what happens to these accounts when you die? It is important for people to know how to incorporate social media into an estate plan as part of their estate administration.

Digital media is here to stay. With almost everyone having at least an email account it can be important to consider what happens to these accounts when people die. If an account is left open it can be vulnerable to hackers, as in the case of Joan Rivers. Weeks after she died her Facebook had a posting endorsing a new IPhone. There are some steps for a person to consider when coming up with a digital estate plan.

Washington estate planning is for everyone

Many Washington residents think that estate planning is for the very wealthy. But, estate planning is for everyone. The purpose of estate planning is to give what you want to whom you want and paying the least amount of taxes and expenses. An estate includes everything that you own or have control over. This can include property, retirement accounts, life insurance, business, personal property, etc.

Estate planning is so important because it helps avoid problems of distribution when a person dies. When a person dies without a will, their property is typically distributed by lineage. One example of a problem that can easily arise is when a spouse dies without a will. The surviving spouse inherits all of his assets. If that spouse remarries and then dies, the second husband inherits all the money and the children from the first marriage do not receive anything. Typically, that is not what the original asset holder would have wanted to happen, but without a will, this can easily occur.

Leaving an inheritance to ones heirs

Baby boomers will be leaving over $30 trillion to their offspring over the next 30 to 40 years. That's an incredible amount of money that will be passed down to the next generation. How can people in Washington ensure that they are passing down this money to their heirs properly? There are certain things to keep in mind when it comes to estate planning.

First, make sure your children know in general what they will be receiving. Let the kids know where they stand financially and that things can change based on medical costs and other factors. The children should know where important papers are kept and whom they should contact upon your death.

Alternatives to probate

The death of a loved one can be an emotional time. Many people going through the estate planning process in Washington know about probate. Probate is the court process that supervises the transfer of money and property, identification of heirs and payment of debts when someone dies. Probate can be a significant cost for an estate and there are ways, through careful planning, that probate can be avoided or significantly reduced.

A formal probate can be avoided or reduced in a number of different ways depending on the estate's size and situation. Although the laws vary from state to state, depending on the value of the estate, the estate may not need to go through probate. Life insurance proceeds also do not go through probate if they have a clear beneficiary designation. Assets that are held in a trust do not go through probate.

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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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