Other than death and taxes, nothing is certain. So why not prepare for both circumstances? Future planning doesn’t have to be a sensitive topic. In reality, estate planning and safeguarding the assets you’ve worked so hard to acquire have nothing but advantages.
Less than half of Americans, according to recent statistics, have wills. Surprisingly, only approximately one-third of individuals who have children under the age of 18 have a will or living trust. Stay away from statistics. By preparing your estate now, you may safeguard your assets and support your remaining family members.
What Is an Estate?
Let’s go back and define what an estate is so that we are all on the same page. In essence, your estate is what the law considers to be your whole net assets.
An estate may consist of: Bank accounts Investments
Houses and other real estate Cars and other vehicles
Life insurance Personal belongings
Your estate, in brief, consists of all you own and owe. Later, we’ll talk more about that.
Estate planning: What Is It?
A comprehensive estate plan consists of numerous documents. Every document has a certain function. Everything from creating trust funds to naming your power of attorney can be included in estate planning.
Preserving and safeguarding all of the things you’ve worked so hard to collect is the aim of estate planning. Naturally, lowering the amount spent in taxes, legal fees, court charges, and other expenses is another goal.
The following are the most typical estate planning papers:
LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT
Your final will and testament is the most significant component of your estate planning. You provide very specific instructions as to how your property will be divided, who will be your children’s guardian, and who will carry out your wishes in this document.
Remember that your final will and testament only becomes effective after your passing. If you become physically or mentally unable to care for yourself, it provides no protection.
If you are unable to make decisions for yourself, a living will can assist in protecting your wishes. For instance, you might end up in the hospital while unconscious and with very little ability. You would specify, then in your living will if you have strong opinions about when to obtain life-sustaining care or not.
POWER OF ATTORNEY
Many people elect to designate someone to manage in their place. The term for this is “power of attorney.” Normally, if you become incapacitated, you would designate your spouse, a member of your family, or a close friend to manage your affairs.
There are numerous kinds of powers of attorney, each with a particular purpose, term, and set of circumstances. It’s crucial to remember that if you’d like, you can give different people the power of attorney for finances and healthcare. It should go without saying that you should entrust your life to your power of attorney.
An official document known as a living trust transfers your assets into a trust while you are still alive. It is transmitted to your chosen beneficiaries after your passing. A living trust may be established in addition to a last will.
The main advantage of setting up a trust is that it will enable you to bypass the probate procedure. The bottom line is that a living trust can shield your assets from being depleted by court and legal fees. Additionally, it makes everything operate much more smoothly overall because your beneficiaries will be able to get their inheritance more quickly and with less fuss.
What You Need to Know About Washington State Estate Planning
Washington will appoint an administrator to divide your assets in accordance with state succession laws if you pass away without leaving a will. According to these laws, your “closest” living relatives receive your assets. You should have a say in what happens to your assets when you pass away, if you want — thus, create a will
The legal procedure for resolving a deceased person’s estate is called probate. Thankfully, Washington State has one of the most straightforward probate processes in the nation.
In practically all situations, your personal representative (as named in your will) has full authority and is not subject to court supervision.
Attorney fees are not calculated as a proportion of the estate’s value.
The state of Washington collects an estate tax but not an inheritance tax. In other words, there is no tax on an estate’s beneficiaries, but there can be a tax on the decedent’s estate.
You should examine these and other matters with your estate planning specialist. There are a number of thresholds and exemptions. Many times, due to tax structuring in the decedent’s will, there is actually no estate tax due. This is another excellent reason to make an estate plan!
Tax regulations at the federal and state levels are always changing. Because of this, you should frequently check if your estate plan is still relevant.
Estate planning is considerably simpler to do now when you have a legal team on your side who is aware of the sensitive and occasionally challenging nature of the procedure. A knowledgeable wills and estates lawyer in Washington can assist you when you need assistance analyzing existing documents or creating a comprehensive strategy for you and your future.
Call The Cowlitz Law Group at (360) 355-4465 or (360) 597-7585 ext 1 or contact us here.