ESTATE PLANNING INFORMATION


      An estate plan affords control over the distribution of your property when you pass away, and can also provide the means to manage your affairs should you temporarily or permanently become unable to do so during your lifetime. Estate planning arranges administration of property and assets in league with a couple's or individual's unique circumstances and goals.  It maximizes benefits available under the law for wills, taxes, insurance, property, and trusts, and personalizes the disposition of property upon death. For some, it provides peace of mind that minor children will be cared for by loving and capable family or friends in the manner they choose.  Advance planning also reduces the burden on those you leave behind, simplfyng administrative duties for your personal representative or executor.

 

 Wills

A Last Will and Testament controls the distribution of a decedent’s property according to his or her wishes. It enables you to choose a personal representative or executor to handle property and affairs from the time of your death until the estate is settled. Property distribution under the terms of the Will become the probate or administrated estate. Without a valid Will, the estate will be distributed according to a formula provided under Washington law.


 Trusts

A Trust is a legal relationship between a Trustor, a Trustee, and one or more beneficiaries. The Trustor is the person who establishes the Trust, either while alive or via his or her Will, by transferring title (ownership) of specific assets to the Trustee. The Trustee is then the legal owner of the property and has a fiduciary duty to manage those assets for the benefit of the beneficiary or beneficiaries named in the Trust Agreement or Will. The Trustee must follow the instructions in that document, and each beneficiary is entitled to benefits as prescribed by those instructions. Though usually an individual or individuals, a beneficiary can also be a legal entity, such as a charitable institution.

 

 Powers of Attorney

A Durable General Power of Attorney is an inexpensive, reliable legal document in which you may designate a person you trust to make general and financial decisions for you if you become unable to do so. Thus, in growing older or facing the possibility of an incapacitating illness, you put to rest any fears regarding the potential inability to pay bills, make bank deposits, watch over investments, or collect insurance and government benefits. Similarly, a Power of Attorney for Health Care designates whom you wish to make health care decisions for you when you are unable to do so yourself. To be effective, these documents must be in place prior to any incapacitating event.


 Health Care Directives

With a Health Care Directive (Living Will), you have the opportunity to express personal wishes as to whether life-prolonging treatments should be provided or withheld in certain circumstances should you be unable to communicate those preferences. This is the most compelling way to ensure that your own beliefs and desires override a doctor’s general duty to sustain life in all circumstances, and any religious, philosophical, or economic underpinnings of relatives or a particular healthcare institution.