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Kent Estate Administration and Probate Law Blog

Protect yourself and your loved ones with LTC Planning

Growing old certainly has its challenges. And as a person ages, their wellness is also affected, ultimately leaving many elderly folks in need of assistance. While having family and friends to provide aid for an aging individual is often possible, as the person grows older, they may be in need of constant help and monitoring. Twenty-four-hour care, or long term care, is often necessary for such elderly folks. Such care is often very expensive though, and could possibly drain the assets and property of someone who spent their life growing a nest egg for their next of kin.

Certain things to keep in mind if a family member dies

When a family member dies, it is an emotional and sad time within a family. These loved ones were precious companions and trusted partners. Although it can be hard to think about financial and other estate planning matters during this time, there are important matters that need to be sorted out.

If the deceased family member was receiving social security, it may be a good idea to keep that account open for a few months to make sure all benefits have been received. In addition, there is a social security death benefit, and if the deceased's payment was higher than his or her spouse's, the surviving spouse may be entitled to the higher monthly benefit. It is also important for the family to know which bills will need to be paid and who could be held accountable for various debts.

How to plan to meet with an estate planning attorney

Estate planning is something that everyone in the Kent area should consider, regardless of circumstances. After setting up a meeting with an estate planning attorney, there are a few things a person should do to prepare for the meeting.

Everyone's estate planning needs are unique. In order for an attorney to offer the best possible services, a person should think about a few things before meeting with an attorney. First, a person should think about what they want to accomplish with an estate planning attorney. This may include creating a will, setting up a trust, or drafting a health care directive, among other things. A person should also think about whether they have any unusual circumstances that may need to be addressed. This can include having a child with a disability, or maybe a child that has addiction issues, or there may be someone that a person would want left out of their estate plan. In addition, a person should have someone in mind to be their estate's representative and their child's guardian.

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.

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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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