Archive For: Estate Planning & Probate

Committed Intimate Relationships And Estate Planning In Washington State

Posted: Apr 30, 2019

By: Washington State Estate Planning & Probate Lawyer Casey E. Clifton

What is a Committed Intimate Relationship?

In Washington State, common-law marriage—legal recognition of marriage without having formally registered their relationship—is not lawful.  However, Washington courts have adopted a definition for a long-term, unmarried relationship known as a committed intimidate relationship (“CIR”). The existence of a CIR creates a presumption that all property acquired during the relationship is owned by both parties.

A court must examine several factors to determine whether a relationship qualifies as a CIR:

  • How long has the couple been together/lived together?
  • Was the cohabitation continuous?
  • Did the parties present themselves as a long-term, committed couple?
  • Did...Read More

Resolving Estate Disputes – TEDRA

Posted: Apr 30, 2019

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

“I am involved in an estate dispute as an heir/beneficiary of the disputed estate… what do I do?”

Throughout my years counseling individuals through the resolution of their estate disputes, this question has occurred frequently.  As an heir or beneficiary in a disputed estate, it is always recommended to hire an attorney, even if only for an initial analysis of your position in the dispute.  This step is not required but given the complex nature of the procedures associated with estate litigation and administration, I urge you to consider obtaining the counsel of an experienced estate...Read More

Making A Pre-Inheritance Advance? Document It!

Posted: Apr 29, 2019

By: Washington State Estate Planning and Probate Lawyer Andrew M. McKenzie

For various reasons, testators frequently distribute portions of their estate to their kids, heirs, and loved ones before they die.  Reasons can vary from reducing or avoiding taxes to simply recognizing an heir’s greater need for financial help in the moment.  Questions often arise later concerning how the distribution should be characterized, such as: Were the distributions gifts, loans, or advances to be deducted later from an inheritance?  Naturally, the recipient of the distribution would usually prefer for the distribution to be characterized as a gift, whereas the other heirs of the testator would prefer that...Read More

Disposing Of Tangible Personal Property At Death

Posted: Apr 29, 2019

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

Washington law allows a person to dispose of certain kinds of tangible personal property at their death in a writing separate from their last will and testament.  For purposes of the law, “tangible personal property” is defined as “articles of personal or household use or ornament,” such as furniture, furnishings, cars, boats, jewelry, art, and precious metals.  It can also include articles held for investment purposes.  It does not include property used primarily in trade or business; mobile homes; real estate; or intangible property such as money that is normal currency, bank accounts or other monetary deposits, securities, or...Read More

What Is The Super Will Provision In Washington State?

Posted: Mar 27, 2019

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

A person’s Will does not usually deal with “non-probate assets.”  Non-probate assets are the rights and interests of a person in an asset that pass on the person’s death under a written instrument or arrangement other than the person’s Will.  Examples include property owned as joint tenants with right of survivorship, payable-on-death bank accounts, and transfer-on-death securities or security accounts.  There are numerous other examples.  For a payable on death bank account, the person to receive the funds in the account upon the owner’s death is identified in the forms creating or modifying the account.  As...Read More

Capacity To Make A Will

Posted: Mar 27, 2019

By: Washington State Estate Planning and Probate Lawyer Andrew M. McKenzie

One of the requirements for making a valid will is that the testator have the legal capacity to do so.  Sometimes heirs or would-be-heirs under a will contend that the provisions thereof could not have been the testator’s true intentions, that the testator must not have been of sound mind, and that the will must therefore be unenforceable.  Beneficiaries are more likely to feel this way when their understanding of the strength of their relationship with the testator diverges significantly with their share of the estate’s assets to be distributed by the will as written.  Although...Read More

Self-Directed Disposition Of Human Remains In Washington State

Posted: Feb 21, 2019

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


Pursuant to RCW 68.50.160, a person has the right to direct how his or her remains are disposed after death.  “Directing” such disposition is best accomplished in writing which includes a description of the method of disposition (i.e. burial, cremation, donation for purposes of research etc.).  The written instructions should be signed and dated while being witnessed by at least one person (over the age of 18, of sound mind, and not in any way beneficially interested in the matter).  Such arrangements are generally not modifiable by survivors and a licensed funeral home or cemetery authority...Read More

Federal and Washington Estate Taxes for 2019

Posted: Feb 19, 2019

By: Washington State Estate Planning and Probate 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 $11,400,000 for 2019, a slight...Read More

Fiduciary Duties Of Escrow Holders In Washington State

Posted: Nov 5, 2018

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...Read More

Estate Planning After Divorce In Washington State

Posted: Oct 22, 2018

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...Read More