Archive For: Estate Planning & Probate

Fiduciary Duties Of Escrow Holders In Washington State

By: Washington State Estate Planning & Probate Lawyer William O. Kessler

An escrow holder owes fiduciary duties to all parties to the escrow, and owes the same duty of fidelity that an agent or trustee owes to its principles.  Parties to escrows frequently misunderstand these duties.  It is not an escrow holder’s job to sort out ambiguities of a contract between the parties; rather, the escrow holder’s duties are defined by the actual escrow instructions given by the parties.  An escrow holder also cannot prefer one party over the other, or disclose one party’s confidences to the other without consent.  Escrow holders are not to be arbiters of disputes between parties,...Read More

Estate Planning After Divorce In Washington State

By: Washington State Estate Planning and Real Estate Lawyer Per E. Oscarsson

In the midst of divorce proceedings, the effect of those proceedings on existing estate planning documents and whether the estate planning documents should be replaced are probably not high on a person’s list of things to consider.  Under Washington law, a Will signed during marriage that gives property or powers to a spouse is revoked as to that spouse when the parties divorce, unless the Will expressly provides otherwise.  However, in Washington, the Will is not revoked as to relatives of that spouse who may be named in the Will.  Sometimes, a Will includes a bequest to a relative of...Read More

The Myth Of Gift Tax In Washington State

By: Washington State Estate Planning & Probate Lawyer William O. Kessler

“I want to gift some money to my kids, and avoid estate tax, but I know you can only give $15,000 in a year.” Clients say this regularly. But the gifting cap is a myth! In the vast majority of cases, the term “gift tax” is a misnomer. Only the very wealthiest are at risk of paying actual gift tax during their lifetimes. This is how gifting and gift tax works in Washington: Washington estate tax (i.e. death tax) applies to the estate of a single person, or the case of a married couple, the 2nd spouse to die. It triggers...Read More

Amicable Divorce? You Still Need to Update Your Estate Plan!

By: BeresfordBooth

Getting a divorce is never easy --- but it certainly is less stressful when it is done amicably. In fact, many couples decide that they don’t need the advice of counsel because they are able to agree on the division of assets and liabilities --- and thus they proceed with filing pro se. Further, many couples remain friendly – and sometimes even more so – after the divorce, finding they actually get along better and like each other more outside of the confines of the marital relationship. In these situations, it is often the case that the spouses do not...Read More

Gifting Or Transferring Interest In A Family LLC Or Family LP In Washington State – New Proposed IRS Rules

By: Washington State Estate Planning & Probate Lawyer William O. Kessler

If and when they are adopted, new proposed IRS regulations would reduce the ability to use valuation discounts when valuing transfers of interest between family members in some family LLCs or family limited partnerships. The proposed regulations also expand the instances in which the lapse of certain voting and liquidation rights attached to an interest in a family LLC / family LP will be treated as a taxable gift or bequest. For more information about the formation of family entities, or gifting or selling interest in family entities, call one of the estate planning attorneys at Beresford Booth PLLC. Beresford...Read More

Creating Positive Outcomes For Our Clients

By: Washington State Business and Real Estate Law Lawyer William O. Kessler

The lawyers of Beresford Booth harness our expertise to maximize the benefit for our clients in any given situation. This can mean transforming a seemingly dire situation to a positive outcome. We enjoy creating efficient and successful outcomes. Recently, we had a client whose financial position was bleak. His wife had died, leaving property in his hands. He called Beresford Booth PLLC and we helped our client take control of the estate. We quickly realized that as part of the estate, our client and his wife owned a shared property with a partner. We established that the partner owed our...Read More

Do It Right Or Don’t Do It At All! Validly Executed Will In Washington State

By: Washington State Estate Planning & Probate Lawyer Richard R. Beresford

Stated differently, “a job worth doing is a job worth doing right”. The Washington Statute, RCW 11.12.020, requires that a will to be validly executed, must, among other requirements, be attested by two or more competent witnesses  while in the presence of the testator (person signing their will). In light of these statutory requirements, our office policy is to require the testator to physically come into the office to execute their will. Why are we so particular?  A look at a recent Washington Court of Appeals Division I case in the Estate of Hook, 193 Wn. App. 862 answers this...Read More

New Washington Real Estate Excise Tax Inheritance Exemption

By: Washington State Estate Planning and Real Estate Lawyer Per E. Oscarsson

The state of Washington imposes a real estate excise tax on transfers of real estate, but exemptions from the tax are available for certain types of transfers.  One exemption has been for distributions from the estate of a deceased person to a will beneficiary when the estate involves probate of a last will and testament or to an heir when there is an “intestate” estate (where no will is involved).  To receive the exemption, documentation in the form of a certified copy of Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration had to be presented to the county when the deed was...Read More

Federal And Washington Estate Taxes For 2016

By: Washington State Estate Planning Lawyer Per E. Oscarsson

The “applicable exclusion amount” is the amount of a deceased person’s estate that passes free of estate tax. This differs from the unlimited marital deduction that applies when one spouse dies and transfers all of his or her interest in property to the surviving spouse. There is an applicable exclusion amount for federal estate tax purposes and an applicable exclusion amount for the state of Washington’s estate tax purposes. Under both federal and Washington law, the applicable exclusion amount is subject to adjustment. For federal estate taxes, the applicable exclusion amount is $5,450,000 for 2016, a slight increase over the...Read More

Do I Really Need To Hire A Lawyer To Prepare My Will In Washington State?

By: Washington State Estate Planning & Probate Lawyer Matthew J. Cruz

No, but you should strongly consider doing so. To many people, a Last Will & Testament seems like an unnecessary and expensive complication, especially if a lawyer is needed, and some believe they can simply write out their wishes or express their wishes orally instead of executing a will. Washington residents are not required to hire an attorney to assist with estate planning. Although there is nothing illegal about preparing your own estate planning documents, it may be unwise to do so. First, unless you are well versed in all of the issues which should be addressed in an estate...Read More