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Kent Estate Administration and Probate Law Blog

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.

We can help with all of your estate planning needs

Residents in King County may know how important estate planning is. Estate planning can help protect your assets, carry out your wishes if you become incapacitated and protect the best interests of your family. A well-prepared estate can make sure your wishes are carried out and your loved ones are protected when you're gone.

Estate planning includes wills, trusts, health care directives, guardianship, probate and estate administration. Because of the complexities involved with these issues it is important to use a legal professional who is skilled in estate planning. Jennifer C. Rydberg has been serving our area since 1978 with all estate planning needs.

10 reasons to have a will

Although many people in Washington don't want to think about the inevitable, having a well-prepared estate plan can protect the interests of your family and heirs. Here are some reasons why you should have a will as part of your estate plan.

One of the most popular reasons for having a will is that you get to decide how your estate is distributed. A will is legally binding and spells out your wishes as to how your assets are distributed. Also, if you have young children, it may be critical to have a will so that you are the one who decides who will take care of your children if you die unexpectedly, instead of the court appointing a family member or guardian.

What is the difference between revocable and irrevocable trusts?

Washington estate planning tools often focus on trusts as part of the plan. A trust is a way for an individual to distribute property by transferring its benefits and obligations to different people. When a trust is created, the owner or "trustor" or "grantor" transfers the legal ownership to a person, a "trustee," to manage for the benefit of another person, the "beneficiary." The trustee is responsible for acting in the best interest of the beneficiary.

The trusts can be either a testamentary trust or a living trust. A testamentary trust begins when the grantor dies and allows for the grantor to specify conditions for the receipt of the benefits and perhaps to spread payments out over a period of time. A living trust can start when the grantor is still alive. These are often used to help avoid probate as the assets can be distributed before the grantor dies. Within the living trust umbrella, there are revocable and irrevocable trusts.

What is included in a living will?

No one really wants to think about what will happen when they can no longer care for themselves, but it will happen to most of us in our lifetime. Therefore, estate planning and creating a living will is critical in making sure our desires are heard and met.

A living will is a document that gives direction in a person's medical treatment if they are no longer able to communicate. With all the recent news stories regarding this issue it shows how important they can be when family members are unable to agree or make decisions during this emotional time. Living wills are also known as a healthcare directive. They can include medical care such as tube feeding, resuscitation and organ donation. The living will can also direct that all treatment options should be performed or a person can choose some medical options and reject others. A living will does not take effect until a patient is in a permanent vegetative state or terminally ill and can't communicate with medical providers regarding their medical care.

An overview of guardianships

There may come a time when a person in Washington will find themselves being appointed as a guardian. This role carries with it a lot of responsibilities. Guardianships are established for children or adults who are unable to make decisions for themselves. Children or adults who are mentally or physically incapacitated need to have a parent or guardian to act on their behalf.

Guardians have the legal authority to take care of daily living expenses including food, clothing and housing. Guardians also make education choices, give consent for medical treatment and manage the ward's money and expenses. There are different reasons why a person may need a guardian. Children who don't have a parent or other family member may need a guardian. Or an adult who is mentally or physically incapacitated due to medical issues, drug or alcohol use or mental illness may need a guardian as well.

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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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