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Kent Estate Administration and Probate Law Blog

Making sure a will is almost incontestable

When a Kent area resident goes through the process of making a will, they do it believing that their will will hold up after their death. Most of the time this is what happens, but occasionally someone will contest a will, can which put a deceased person's final wishes at risk.

There are a few things a person should do to ensure their will is untouchable after they die. First, if legal, they can have a no-contest clause. This means that anyone who challenges the will and loses will not receive anything from the will.

Estate planning and trust funds

Many Kent area residents have worked out their estate plan or are interested in creating an estate plan tailored to their own unique family. For many families, including children or grandchildren, an estate plan is one of the most important parts of preparing for the future. Setting up a trust fund is one way to transfer assets to children.

While once thought of as something the very rich do, a trust fund can make senseI n many financial situations. A trust fund ensures that a person's assets are transferred to the person that the person making them trust wants the property to go to. The trust can be used for a child's college costs, or to go toward a child's expenses after the grantor dies. They are also a good way to minimize estate taxes and avoid probate.

Couples who are not married may need estate planning as well

The growing trend in the Kent area and across the United States is for couples to live together and not necessarily get married. Cohabitation with a partner rose 25 percent between 2000 and 2010. In these situations, estate planning, such as a will, is important.

When a couple is together, but not married, there are certain things they need to do to ensure their assets are passed to their partner in case one of them dies. A partner needs to be listed as a beneficiary on life insurance, pensions, 401k accounts and all other bank and investment accounts. A will is also necessary to make sure all wishes are spelled out legally.

Estate planning in families requires good communication

When a Kent area family determines they need to start working on an estate plan, it can seem like an overwhelming task. Depending on a family's needs, there may be many different documents that need to be created. Each family situation is different, but it is important to communicate within the family about what is decided so that no one feels left out. Estate planning is also important in making sure when a person dies, the person's loved ones know what the loved one wanted down and how to go about doing it.

After a person dies, their family is often in limbo as to what happens to their estate. Without an estate plan in place, siblings often get into arguments about who gets what, what should be sold, and about assets and debts in general. An estate plan should be thought about as a way for a person to pass along their values to their heirs, such as who and what is important to them.

What is a guardianship for the disabled?

When a family in King County, Wahsington, has a loved one that suffers from a severe mental or physical disability, there are many different legal issues that need to be arranged. A family knows how difficult it can be to take care of a loved one in this state and how vulnerable these children can be. But guardianships may also be necessary for adults who have, for example, been in a serious accident and are no longer able to make decisions on their own.

A guardian is a person who is appointed by a court to make decisions for another person. These decisions can involve medical, housing, financial and other issues. A person may have a long-term or permanent medical or physician disability that requires them to have someone making their decisions. If a person does not have a power of attorney, the court will appoint a suitable guardian. Guardianships are usually set up so that the ward, or protected person, has control over as much of their lives as they are able.

Without a will, a person's wishes may not be honored

Most Kent area residents know the importance of an estate plan, but many have not taken the time to create a will, trust, or health care directive. Many may think that when they die, their estate will go to their loved ones; however, it can be more complicated than what one might thing, which is why having a will is so important.

Around 64 percent of Americans do not have a will, although anyone over the age of 18 can and usually should have one. If a person dies without a will, the state will decide how the property is distributed. Some of these heirs may be people that a person would not want their assets to go to. Once a will is created, it should be reviewed every few years to make sure the intended beneficiaries are the same and if any other major changes need to be made.

After a divorce, estate planning is important

Although many Kent residents don't anticipate that a divorce will happen to them, many marriages do end in divorce. Soon after a divorce is finalized, meeting with an estate attorney is important as many documents may need to be updated, including wills and trusts.

As we have discussed in previous blog posts, estate planning is for everyone. Not everyone needs complicated wills and trusts, but a simple will, power of attorney and health care directive should be part of everyone's estate plan. A divorce can take a big emotional toll on a person, but once the divorce is finalized, existing estate plans need to be changed and new estate plans should be created.

Estate planning for younger people

Almost all Kent area residents know how important estate planning is. Estate planning is not just wills and trusts, but also power of attorney designation, health care planning and more. For young people, estate planning may seem to be something for older people. But, young people also need to take a look at estate planning and how some options are important no matter what age a person is.

Young adults often don't think about estate planning. Most of these people haven't actually amassed an estate and therefore aren't worried about what will happen to their assets if they pass away. But, for young people, one part of estate planning is extremely important. This is the medical power of attorney. When a person is under the age of 18, parents make decisions on their children's medical care. But when the person is over the age of 18, parents may not be able to access their child's medical records or make health care decisions for their child unless they've been granted medical power of attorney. In addition to a medical power of attorney, a young person should also designate a financial power of attorney.

Regularly revisiting an estate plan is a good idea

Most Kent area residents understand the importance of regularly visiting the doctor and dentist to keep them in good health. But another area of their life that should be revisited is their estate plan, including their will, trusts, and health care directives. There are many life changes that can impact an estate plan.

Having an estate plan is a good way to ensure your wishes are honored and your estate is minimally impacted by taxes and probate. Reviewing an estate plan every 3 to 5 years can ensure that important changes can be made if anything needs updating. The person chosen to be the power of attorney or trustee may be different along with intended heirs. There are also life events that can affect an estate plan. These may include divorce, marriage, death of a family member, new child or grandchild, financial situation, retirement, real estate in another state, and starting a business.

Legal planning for individuals with Alzheimer's Disease

An Alzheimer's diagnosis is devastating for families in the Kent area. This disease seriously affects both the patient and their family. The prognosis of Alzheimer's can be discouraging, so legal documents and legal planning are very important. There are several estate planning legal documents a person with Alzheimer's should have in order for others to have the ability to make decisions on the patient's behalf and make sure their wishes are honored.

There are several legal documents that a person with Alzheimer's should have created before the disease progresses. The first is a power of attorney. This document allows the person to name an individual to act on their behalf for financial matters once they no longer have legal capacity. There should also be a power of attorney for health care decisions that need to be made. These can include health decisions for the types of treatments, deciding what care facilities to use, end of life decisions and do not resuscitate orders. Health care decisions should be discussed in advance so that the Alzheimer's patient makes their wishes known and feels comfortable knowing that their chosen power of attorney is able to act on their behalf. A living trust may be created in order to pool all assets into one place and create instructions as to what to do with these assets when a person is no longer able to make decisions. A will can also be created to distribute assets upon a person's death. A medical release of information form should also be created so that doctors can share information with family members.

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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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