Proper estate planning is extremely important to make sure that your children, spouse, and assets are all taken care of in the future regardless of what happens.
A will can help you plan for your loved ones when you pass away. If you have children, a spouse, or other loved ones, a will gives you the power to direct how you want your property to be distributed.
Depending on your family, it could get ugly. If you die without a will you could be leaving them with a big headache, not to mention a massive to-do list. Washington has a series of statutes enacted by the state legislature that directs how property is to be dispersed should you pass without a will ― side note: it may surprise you where your property goes should you not have a will. The statutory distribution of property sometimes creates situations where multiple people own the same real property or other assets. This can make it costly for your heirs to disperse and divide. It can also lead to unpleasant disagreements.
A will can address almost any issue that you can imagine. People most commonly use a will to disperse of real and personal property. However, some assets can pass outside of the will, like life insurance. Often a will is a mechanism to provide for children, nominate caretakers, and provide for pets, or other loved ones. Can I write my own will? A will needs certain legal elements satisfied to be valid and enforceable in Washington. At Helland Law Group, we can ensure that your will meets these criteria. Also, if you are constantly buying and selling personal property, our firm can help you craft a will that allows you to continuously update where personal property goes, without needing to visit an attorney’s office every time.
Many people write a single will in their lifetime and then completely forget about it. The problem with this approach is that all too often their life looks much different at the time of their death compared to how it looked when the will was drafted. It is best to update your will with any major change in life circumstances. This may include a marriage, divorce, birth, death, or significant changes in your assets and liabilities.
A power of attorney gives certain powers to an individual that you select. These powers can be extremely broad (health-care decisions, buying and selling real estate, making other financial decisions) or very narrow (just signing a tax return). Often a power of attorney is used to plan for a situation when you may no longer be able to make important decisions. A power of attorney may be effective the moment it is signed or may only go into effect at the time of your disability.
Yes. Both a power of attorney and an advanced healthcare directive can help facilitate your choices regarding what medical treatment you receive. Typically, a power of attorney will allow an appointed individual to make certain healthcare choices for you. An advanced healthcare directive can contain such things as a directive to not resuscitate or suspend life-prolonging treatments if you are in a permanent coma.
No. Small estates that do not contain any real property can often be resolved outside of probate. How long does it take to probate an estate? There are some statutory waiting periods required for creditors to have time to assert claims. Therefore, do not be surprised if it takes 6-12 months between a probate being opened and closed.