Archive For: Estate Planning & Probate

What If I Die Without A Will In Washington State?

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

What happens to my estate in Washington State if I die without having executed a Last Will and Testament? When someone dies without having executed a valid Last Will and Testament, they are said to have died intestate (without a Will).  I am frequently asked whether dying without a Will means your Estate will be distributed to the State of Washington – the answer is “no.”  Dying without a Will merely means your estate will be distributed according to state law.  In this sense, everyone “has a Will”, some by separate instrument and some by state law. When someone dies...Read More

Washington State’s New Transfer On Death Deed

By: BeresfordBooth

Washington is joining several other states in allowing the use of a Transfer on Death Deed to transfer real property to a designated beneficiary at the time of death. This nonprobate transfer tool will become effective on June 12, 2014. A Transfer on Death Deed is a new method in Washington for leaving your real estate to a beneficiary without going through the probate process. The beneficiary will not have any rights to your property while you are alive, but upon death the property will transfer to your beneficiary. A few important things to remember, though: The deed can be...Read More

Expensive Mistakes From Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning

By: Washington State Estate Planning Lawyer Per E. Oscarsson

The internet and television have numerous ads for pre-printed estate planning forms, such as wills, powers of attorney, etc. Sometimes, such forms may be specific to a particular state, sometimes they may not. The selling point of such forms is that you can complete them yourself, often “in the privacy of your own home”, and with less cost than if you were to consult a lawyer. While the lower cost may be true in the short run, it may much more expensive in the long run. Use of the form may also not give you the results you intended. A...Read More

Foreclosing Banks In Washington State May Need To Open Probates For Their Own Deceased Borrowers

By: Washington State Estate Administration Lawyer William O. Kessler

When borrowers die owing more on their real estate than it is worth, their heirs often let the property go to foreclosure. In those cases, the same heirs often do not commence probate for the deceased borrower because such borrowers often have small estates. Typically, the bank elects judicial foreclosure (i.e. “foreclosure by lawsuit”) rather than non-judicial foreclosure, as a judge’s Decree of Foreclosure is more likely to ensure the full and final foreclosure of the interest of all unknown heirs. In such judicial foreclosures, the lender names as defendants the borrower’s estate, along with the known and unknown heirs...Read More

Duties Of Trustees In Washington State

By: Washington State Estate Planning Lawyer Per E. Oscarsson

A trustee is an individual or entity whose function is to administer the terms of a trust. This can involve acquiring, investing, reinvesting, exchanging, selling, transferring, controlling, dividing, and otherwise managing the trust’s property. The trustee often has a wide range of actions it can take in performing this function. But the trustee is held to a high standard of conduct or duty. The trustee’s duties and powers are determined by the terms of the trust, common law and statutes. To whom does the trustee owe these duties? To the settlor (or creator) of the trust as well as to...Read More

Changes To Washington State Estate and Gift Taxes for 2014

By: Washington State Estate Planning Lawyer Per E. Oscarsson

In 2013, the State of Washington enacted law to change the “applicable exclusion amount” for Washington’s estate tax.  The “applicable exclusion amount” is the amount that passes free of estate tax.  For the past several years, Washington’s applicable exclusion amount has been $2,000,000.  So, the first $2,000,000 in value of an estate passed free of Washington’s estate tax.  Only the amount in excess of $2,000,000 was subject to Washington’s estate tax (assuming no other exclusions or other deductions were applicable, such as the unlimited marital deduction).  Under the new law, Washington’s applicable exclusion amount will be adjusted annually based on...Read More

Do College Students From the State of Washington Need a Power of Attorney?

By: BeresfordBooth

Maybe you’re preparing for your college student son or daughter to return from a semester of college for Thanksgiving or winter break. Or maybe you’re planning ahead to send your newly accepted student to his or her freshman year of college next year. Whether your child is attending college in Washington State or out of state, there may be something you are forgetting to pack with them: a Power of Attorney. Many colleges are now adding “Power of Attorney” to their list of things parents and students need to think about when starting college and it’s something you should take...Read More

Receipt of Actual Notice Not Required for “Actual Notice” in Washington State Probate

By: Washington State Estate Planning Lawyer Per E. Oscarsson

In a Washington probate, the personal representative of the estate usually publishes a notice to creditors of the deceased in a newspaper once a week for three consecutive weeks.  However, the personal representative may also give creditors “actual notice”.  “Actual notice” is given by mailing a copy of the notice to the creditor’s last known address by regular first class mail, postage prepaid.  However, the creditor is not required to receive the mailed notice in order for it to be effective.  Giving creditors actual notice is important to an estate because it shortens the amount of time in which creditors...Read More

What If A Beneficiary Or Heir Of An Estate In Washington State Cannot Be Located?

By: BeresfordBooth

Here is one solution to close an estate in Washington State when you cannot locate an heir or beneficiary. A Personal Representative or the Administrator (sometimes called the Executor) of an Estate is charged with locating the beneficiaries of a Will or the heirs of someone who has died. Sometimes this is an easy job, but instances arise where it is difficult to track down the person who is entitled to a share of the estate. If that person cannot be found, they may be considered an “Absentee Distributee.” Fortunately, Washington statute has provided a way to handle that problem...Read More

Inheritance By Slayers And Financial Abusers Is Illegal in Washington State

By: Washington State Estate Planning Lawyer Per E. Oscarsson

The state of Washington has long had a policy that no person will be allowed to profit by their own wrong, wherever that wrong is committed.  One area in which that policy has been expressed is inheritance rights.  For many years, Washington has had a “slayer statute”, RCW Chapter 11.84.  The statute provided that no slayer “shall in any way acquire any property or receive any benefit as the result of the death of the decedent….”  Slayer was defined to mean any person who participates in the “willful and unlawful killing of any other person.”  Consequently, the statute does not...Read More