Estate Planning Attorney in Tacoma, WA
Estate planning is the name of the legal process of asset and real estate management and how it gets redistributed during someone’s death. While this is an important task, a lot of people avoid writing proper documents. This is especially important in elder law concerns, where the chance of demise is quite higher. This makes it an important document to consider. While our assets aren’t the most important thing to think about after our death, it also isn’t the easiest thing to handle. An expert Washington estate planning attorney can help you navigate this important concern.
Not only can the estate planning process assist you after your death, but it also brings a lot of benefits to your family in the long run. These include easier handling of Wills, fewer familial issues due to inheritance, and estate taxes.
In Jones Legacy Law, our Washington estate planning attorneys can help clients create a successful plan on how their assets will be managed. Our goal as a law office is to give our elderly or ill clients a hassle-free process in their estate plans.
Why do I need an Estate Plan?
While most elderly people acknowledge the importance of an estate plan, a lot of people tend to forget when to start doing so. While most of our clients are only familiar with wills, there are multiple other estate planning documents that are useful depending on the person’s circumstance. This could include appointing a power of attorney, creating a living will, and establishing legal appointees like guardianships or conservatorships.
Having an estate plan is a godsend especially for families with elderly, ill members, or members under long term care. Without these, your family members may become burdened with issues if the individual dies. In some cases, the lack of an estate plan can lead to internal family conflict, and no one wants that to happen to their family.
Estate Planning Goals
When establishing an estate plan, it’s important to note these goals in order to create a proper one:
- Make sure that you are able to take note of your different beneficiaries. These are the people who will receive your assets once the unfortunate incident happens.
- Create a power of attorney. Through a Washington power of attorney, an individual can appoint an agent like a loved one or a spouse, to legally act on an individual’s behalf for financial decisions and health care decisions.
- Make a will and trust. These are some of the legal document tools that you need to consider. In a will, your executor is allowed to proceed with your asset administration according to your specific requests, making sure that even after your death, you have a voice in the matter. In a trust, it is a basic document that could denote how you want to divide your property, usually after an unfortunate event like death.
In Washington state, it is mandated by law that adults are considered as complicit in their decisions for themselves. But when people become older, or they become incapacitated by a disability or medical condition a trusted loved one may need to help them with their decisions. This is helped by the establishment of a guardianship. This allows them to obtain the legal authority to make decisions on the elder’s behalf.
A guardianship allows a chosen person to gain control over financial matters such as bank accounts and rent, and medical issues such as doctor visits and medication. Without having guardianship in place, you may not legally be able to make those decisions and provide the care your loved one needs.
Steps on Managing an Estate Plan
In managing an estate plan, you can follow this step-by-step process in order to make sure that your estate plan is fit for your elderly or ill loved ones.
Create a spreadsheet of your real estate, assets, and other debts
In a proper estate plan, your net worth as well as its components. This will allow you to manage them properly and divide them among your beneficiaries accordingly. These assets should also include your automobiles, retirement funds, and other investment or trust funds, plus any other property of value.
Make sure that your supporting documents are complete
After noting down your assets, make sure to collate every document that could be important for your estate plan and/or probate court proceedings. Some of these important documents include marriage certificates, divorce papers, insurance policies, business agreements, titles, deeds, and info regarding your bank accounts. Make sure to also include a secure document noting down your passwords for your important online documents.
Appoint your power of attorney or executor wisely. Since they will be the one responsible for multiple decisions, it is always important to choose them wisely. While it is possible to choose the same person as your executor in multiple estate planning documents, it is better if you are able to distribute it among multiple people to act as a failsafe as well in terms of emergencies.
Prepare the documents listed previously
Make sure to follow a guide while writing the suggested documents such as your power of attorney, living trust and living wills. While it is possible to write these documents on your own, this is a good time to consult with an experienced estate planner or elder law attorney. In Washington state, there are multiple statutes that deal specifically with planning for elderly people. For older clients with multiple beneficiaries, tons of assets, and complex businesses, a professional can assist in proper organization and writing of your documents.
Update your plan regularly
Given that our assets, liabilities, and even our decisions can change, it is important especially for the elderly to update their plans regularly. It is suggested that you can change your plans every three to five years or after a major asset change.