Learn the disparity between wills vs POA in Washington state on your estate planning case.
If you live in Washington, you are probably one of the residents perplexed about the difference between wills vs POA (powers of attorney). Estate planning legal matters are quite often perplexing. Avoiding conflicts is necessary to protect your family, loved ones, and property. Before taking any action, it is a good idea to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney first.
James A. Jones, the founder of Jones Legacy Law, has been helping thousands of clients in Tacoma, Washington, for over 15 years. Our law firm focuses on understanding all your legal concerns because we prioritize creating the future you desire for you and your family. We provide customized legal services to ensure your needs are met. If you need assistance with your estate plan, you may book a free initial consultation with us now.
Why Do I Need an Estate Planning Attorney in Washington?
In estate planning, you will be dealing with different legal documents. Washington residents often avoid writing or reading wills because they discuss death, which is usually uncomfortable for many people. While it is true that talking about the demise of your loved one will put you in a painful situation, not preparing for its inevitability will cause tremendous emotional stress on the surviving family and friends.
Aside from having someone who will guide you in preparing a will or any other important document, it is best to consult with an estate planning attorney who possesses the following characteristics:
- Experienced – When dealing with complicated estate planning matters, you need to choose a competent attorney in the practice area. Hiring a capable one can help you avoid making mistakes when drafting wills. A knowledgeable estate planning attorney will assist you throughout the legal process without trouble or stress.
- Compassionate – Consider choosing an estate planning attorney to assist you with the legalities and show respect and care. You deserve an estate planning attorney who will listen to you and value your friends and family when discussing sensitive topics.
- Personalized Services – Without a doubt, every family’s situation is unique. Some may be overly complex, while others may not be. When selecting an estate planning attorney, look for one who will provide personalized legal services and recognizes that you, as a client, have unique needs that not every family has.
With more than 15 years of service, Jones Legacy Law is the best estate planning law firm you can rely on. Washington residents, regardless of age, are touched by our firm’s work. Our legal team always provides personalized services because we understand that each situation is unique and that clients deserve what they necessitate. If you need help with your estate plan concerns, schedule a free consultation with us now.
What is the Difference Between Last Will and Testament vs Power of Attorney in Tacoma, WA?
A last will and testament pertain to the property distribution after your death. It may also establish trusts and designate guardians for children under 18 years old. A will allows you to execute your wishes by appointing an executor who supervises your estate during the probate process. The one writing the will is called the testator, while the ones receiving money or property are the estate beneficiaries.
A power of attorney pertains to appointing an agent to manage your affairs. If you want to appoint someone to manage your finances, legal, business, family maintenance, and real and personal property, you have to sign a durable power of attorney. You have to carry out a medical power of attorney or a living will for health care decisions. Health care or medical powers of attorney deal with medical decisions if you cannot communicate, but they do not always cover life-or-death situations. The living will express your wishes about the treatment of terminal conditions specifically.
Types of Power of Attorney
Here are the different types of powers of attorney depending on your case:
- Durable Power of Attorney – The power of attorney pertains to a legal document that enables a person to make decisions on behalf of another person, typically people who are unwilling or unable. A durable power of attorney means that your representative will execute acts when you are incapacitated. At all times, it is highly advised that you state in the document whether you want your power of attorney to be durable or not, so there will be no misinterpretation about how it will be enforced.
- Non-durable power of attorney – A non-durable power of attorney, on the other hand, is a beneficial legal tool for giving your stock broker oversight and access to the investments you made every day because they will act until their license expires or they decide to retire at an early age due to unforeseen circumstances, such as illness.
- Springing Power of Attorney – The POA is not constantly restricted to household or personal use. You may also designate agents for business purposes when they are the ones who manage your company. It can be favorable if you are vacationing. A springing power of attorney can efficiently safeguard your loved ones when you become incapacitated.
- General Power of Attorney – By using a general power of attorney, you can grant permission to your agent to act on your behalf in all situations if needed. This includes legal issues and transactions in your finances.
- Financial Power of Attorney – A financial POA is deemed a powerful legal tool since it enables your agent to act for you in certain matters. For instance, a financial power of attorney can make decisions about your finances and property, which includes everything from real estate to investments to loans.
You may, at your discretion, decide how your agent will act on your behalf. You can give them limited power for certain activities, such as paying bills, managing property, etc. However, they can also range in different durability levels, depending on what matters most to you.
- Medical Power of Attorney – In Washington state, if a person suffers from chronic illness or an accident that renders them incapacitated, an individual can be appointed to express the person’s wishes regarding future medical care. It could be done using a living will or a medical power of attorney. It is a written legal document used for estate planning.
In other words, a medical power of attorney falls under the durable power of attorney. It may not be enforced unless you become incapacitated and unable to make medical decisions by yourself. In contrast to a regular power of attorney, a medical power of attorney will not expire at any given time. It will remain valid until you are no longer incapacitated.
How Wills Are Constructed
To fully comprehend what a will is, you must first understand how it is put together. A will in Washington is typically a written document that states the testator’s wishes regarding how their property should be distributed. A testator is not required to give property to any family member or relative. Thus, consent and willingness are imperative.
RCW 11.12.010 pertinently describes who is allowed to construct a will. It states that any person with a sound mind who is at least 18 years old may devise their estate through a last will and testament, whether real or personal property. While this may sound broad, the form of the will is quite specific. For example, for a will to be valid, it must be in writing and duly signed by the testator.
A valid will must have two witnesses. This can be fulfilled in two ways: (1) by signature at the bottom part of the will; and (2) by completing a separate form. The document will not be considered a valid will if those essential things are not met.
Call Our Washington Estate Planning Attorney Now!
Drafting a last will and testament or using a power of attorney is challenging. While the instructions are clear under the law, dealing with the actual case is difficult for an average individual. If you need assistance with your complicated case, seek legal advice from an estate planning attorney.
James A. Jones is available to assist you with legal document drafting. We handle various concerns, providing the highest quality legal representation. We treat our clients like family and friends, fostering a relationship built on honesty and trust. Aside from estate planning, we also offer legal services in elder law, probate and estate administration, and bankruptcy. If you need help, book a free consultation today!