With the way things are right now, nothing is certain except death and taxes. So why not plan for both? Planning to secure the assets that you worked for can only bring benefits and nothing to lose. Estate planning is one branch of law that will dictate how the testator’s estate will be distributed after their death along with other tasks to be handled by an estate manager or an executor.
What is an Estate and Estate Plan?
Estate laws view an estate as the total value of your net worth that may include:
- Bank accounts
- Cars and other vehicles
- Houses and other real estates
- Life insurance
- Personal belongings
To sum it up, an estate is everything that you own including your debts. On the other hand, an Estate Plan is an assembly of different kinds of legal documents such as wills & trusts to save and preserve all the important assets that you have worked for. Another goal of estate planning is to bring down the amount of taxes, legal expenditures, court fees, and other types of expenses that you would have to pay for.
There are different kinds of legal documents that can be used to set up an estate plan but the most used are:
Common types of estate planning documents
Last Will and Testament
The last will and testament is a very crucial part of an estate plan because you will need to set up in detail the division of your assets, guardianship of your children, identification of your heirs, and appointment of the executor of your wishes. Take note that this kind of document will only be effective after death and it will not offer any protection when you become physically or mentally incapacitated.
A living will is a document made to protect your wishes in instances where you are deprived of the ability to make choices for yourself. If you included it in the living will, it can determine whether you want to receive life-sustaining care or resuscitation in cases where your abilities to make judgments are severely limited like when you are put in a comatose state or other similar situations.
This is a legal document that puts your assets in a trust during your lifetime. Upon death, the assets will then be transferred to the assigned successor. A living trust can be made along with the last will. One of the benefits that a living trust brings is that it allows you to avoid the expensive legal process of probate. Living trust agreements designate a trustee who holds legal possession of assets and property that flow into the trust. As such, there is a smoother process for your beneficiaries to obtain the inheritance faster and easier.
Power of Attorney
If you prefer to appoint a trustee or other people to make decisions for you on your behalf, you might want to take a power of attorney. Normally, people entrust their spouse, family members, loved ones, or close friends that they trust with their life to make decisions for them in cases where they are unable to do so themselves.
Important things to take note about Estate Planning in Washington
Upon dying without completing a will, your assets will be allocated by the state through an appointed administrator following the Washington succession laws. The law will give your assets to your closest relative or family member regardless of whether you want them to receive it or not. Because of this, we advise that you consider creating wills if you want to be in control of what happens to your assets when you die.
A probate is a legal procedure made to settle the estate of a deceased person. Fortunately, Washington makes the probate laws easy to understand.
- Attorney fees will not be based on a percentage of the value of the estate.
- If you have designated a personal representative, he or she can act with complete authority and without the intervention of the court in most matters.
While the state of Washington does not have an inheritance tax, it does have an estate tax. This means that the heirs will not be taxed for receiving the estate. However, taxes may be meted on the deceased’s estate itself. There are plenty of exemptions and limits that a person should know when it comes to estate taxes. As such, discussing it with an estate planning attorney is highly recommended because there might be an exemption fit for you. There are also cases where there is no tax owed to be paid because of the tax planning of the decedent.
We can help you!
Federal tax laws as well as Washington state laws are constantly changing. We, at James A. Jones Attorney At Law, will help you make sure that your estate plan is currently up to date.
Estate planning can be overwhelming and you need a reliable law firm to help you out. We will be your trusted partner and guide you through the process so you can make an informed decision. Some of our services include drafting a will, updating your wills and beneficiary if needed, reducing federal and estate tax through gifting and trusts, asset protection, avoiding probate, and dedicating our experienced estate planning attorneys to tailor your specific needs. Call us now for a free legal consultation!