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Kent Estate Administration and Probate Law Blog

Estate planning and vacation homes: some things to consider

Many Kent area residents own a vacation home. These special places are where families gather to make memories and get away from it all. Many times these homes are passed down through the generations, ensuring that they remain in the family for a long time. Before a person passes their vacation home to their children through a will or trust, there are a few things they should consider.

One thing a parent should consider before passing the vacation home to their children is to make sure the children even want the home. It is important to check with the potential heirs to see who would want the vacation home. An heir would need to consider the upkeep cost, distance to travel to the home and other factors. It is also important to determine how to leave the home to the children.

Including in-laws in your will

There always seems to be jokes about a person's in-laws and how they are crazy, mean, lazy or worse. But for many Kent area residents, in-laws are beloved members of their family. When a person is creating their will they may wonder if they should include specific in-laws, many times their son-in-law or daughter-in-law.

Estate planning is unique to every family and their needs and desires. There are certain things a family may want to consider if they want to include their in-laws in their will. A person may want to consider if this is the first marriage for their child, how long the couple has been married, if there are kids from other relationships and whether the couple has separated in the past. A person may worry that part of their estate will be given to a son or daughter-in-law, their child may die and the in-law would re-marry and use their inheritance in their new relationship. If a family wants to include their in-laws it may be wise to put in the will that they will inherit the assets only if they are still married to the spouse.

Does an ABLE Act account make sense for your child's future?

Kent area parents who have a child with disabilities know how important it is to plan for their child's future. These children will need care their entire lives, and parents need to consider how their vulnerable children will be taken care of when the parents die. There are several different ways parents can plan ahead, including a relatively new option that has become available.

In 2014, President Obama signed into law, the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act. This law allows people with qualified disabilities to create a tax free savings account. The account holder can save up to $100,000 without it impacting the benefits they receive from SSI or Medicaid. If the account has more than $100,000, the person will no longer receive SSI but can still be eligible for Medicaid. The interest earned on the savings is tax free but contributions made to the account are not tax free. Contributions are limited to $14,000 each year. When the account beneficiary dies, the money left in the account must first be used to repay Medicaid expenses.

Business owners need an estate plan

Business owners in the Kent area have worked hard to build their business and make it successful. When it comes to thinking about succession of their business they need to start estate planning sooner rather than later. By planning ahead, a business owner can maximize the chances that their business will be protected from tax penalties and will remain running after their death.

There are certain elements that a business succession plan should include. First, it needs to include who will own the business and who will manage the business. The successors should be trained and developed and responsibility and authority should be delegated to these successors. Coordination between the successive owners and managers of the business should occur. It may be a good idea to transfer the business during the owner's lifetime so that they are able to consult with the new owners and management and reduce the risk of it being sold.

Same-sex couples and estate planning

Same-sex married couples in Washington should know that estate planning applies to their relationships the same as it does to opposite sex marriages. Now that same-sex marriage is legal across the country, the same rules apply to all married couples.

Same-sex couples are now viewed the same as opposite-sex couples across the United States. This means that same-sex married couples will have spousal priority in instances of guardianship proceedings or matters regarding an incapacitated spouse's medical care. They also have survivorship rights to their spouse's pension plan and retirement accounts, regardless of what state these originated from and whether they recognized same-sex marriage before the 2015 Supreme Court decision. Upon a same-sex spouse's death, their property will automatically go to their spouse unless they have a will that provides otherwise. And the spouse will have priority in the trust proceedings after their spouse's death.

Digital estate planning is an important part of an estate plan

Most Kent area residents know that an estate plan is a valuable resource for families. They understand that estate plans can offer a family the peace of mind that their wishes will be followed if they are incapacitated or following their death. Estate planning and estate administration continues to evolve and now many estate plans should include a digital aspect as well.

Almost everyone has some kind of digital presence. These can include social media accounts, passwords to investment and bank accounts and downloaded media including books. An estate administrator may not be aware of their existence until after their owner's death and even then many different sites and accounts can easily be missed.

What do Kent residents need to know about ancillary probate?

Many people in Kent own a home in the area. Some may own other homes in Washington or other states as well. When a family is in the process of estate planning, considering the implications of having property in other states is important. If personal property is located in another state at the time of a person's death, that may lead to ancillary probate.

Ancillary probate is a probate procedure that occurs in addition to the primary probate procedure that is located in a person's home state. The property may include real estate or personal property, such as a boat or car if it is titled in that state. It can also include livestock, oil or gas that is not located in a home state.

Do you need to review your estate plan?

Many residents in the Kent area have taken the time to create an estate plan. There are many reasons why an estate plan is important, but there are also reasons to make sure that an existing estate plan stays updated.

One reason why an estate plan may need to be updated would be due to a marriage or divorce. This includes a person's own marriage and divorce and their children's marriage and divorce, if they are listed in estate plans. In addition to a marriage or divorce, the birth of a child can have a significant impact on an estate plan. An estate plan should be updated with the new heir's information and the child's needs regarding a guardian.

Estate planning steps to get started

Many people in the Kent area look forward to retirement. Retirement is a time for relaxing, traveling and doing things that a person couldn't do when they had to work. Planning ahead for retirement by saving money is an important step for all workers. As well as saving money, estate planning should also be a step in a retirement plan.

An estate plan includes many different parts. There are basic steps that should be taken in order to create an estate plan for a family's needs. With these steps a person can set up a plan to pass assets to their heirs or charitable organizations and ensure that their wishes are met. First, a person should decide what is important to them and what they want the estate plan to accomplish. All financial documents should also be organized. Retirement account information should be located, including IRA accounts, 401Ks and pension plan information and beneficiary information should be updated. Consolidate life insurance policies and gather all bank account information. List out all financial assets to help determine who should get what. In addition, important estate planning documents should be created. These include wills, trusts, a healthcare directive and powers of attorney. Once the plan has been created, share it with those who are involved with it. Also update the plan after any major life event.

Estate planning for blended families

Divorce and remarriage is very common in America. Second marriages often bring children into the marriage from previous relationships and sometimes couples have children with their new partner. With this more complicated family structure, estate planning is very important.

A person who is remarried and doesn’t have an estate plan at the time of their death is probably going to embroil their family in a major dispute over their assets. The inheritance can easily be split up not according to your wishes, or an ex-spouse may still be listed as a beneficiary on a bank account, retirement account or an old will.

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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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