Estate planning means putting your property to the best possible use for your benefit during your lifetime and for the use of your "beneficiaries" after your death. Your beneficiaries are the people you want to receive your assets including your home, cash, investments, and other possessions when you die. In many cases, sound estate planning can reduce the taxes and other costs that must be paid during your lifetime and when you pass on your property.
Is estate planning just for rich people?
No. Most people can benefit from estate planning. If you own anything at all, even just the furniture in the home you rent, you should arrange for your property to go to your beneficiaries in the best possible way.
Your "estate" may be worth more than you think. An estate includes your savings, of course, but also any business you may own, life insurance proceeds, stocks, bonds, profit sharing and pension plans. Your home, rental property, other real estate, and any valuables such as a car, jewelry, antiques or a coin collection are part of your estate. Also, any monies you are owed, any patents or copyrights you may own and any royalty agreements you may have are part of your estate.
Estate planning can also include guardianship and trust provisions for your minor children. If you have minor children, we include simple guardianship and trust provisions in our standard Will at no extra charge.
What is involved in estate planning?
Estate planning is different for everyone, Among other things, the kind of estate planning you need depends on whether you have a family and its size, the kinds and amounts of property you own and what you want your estate planning to accomplish.
One simple estate planning device is a Will. Because Washington State is a community property state, another way to pass property between husband and wife is a Community Property Agreement. Estate planning often means making decisions about the way you "hold title to" or own a house or other real estate, bank accounts, life insurance policies, pension and profit-sharing plans, stocks, bonds, and more. Estate planning might include setting up one or more trusts.
Estate planning can also include a Living Will or Directive to Physicians to let your doctors and family know what you want in terms of life support should you become incapacitated due to injury or terminal illness. It also should include a Durable Power of Attorney in which you name someone to handle your affairs should you become unable to handle them yourself.
Please call to help you design an estate plan which covers all your needs.
Do I need a Will?
Washington state law does not require that you have a Will, but, if you have children, have definite plans on who you want to receive a gift from your estate it is highly advisable that you have a Will.
What other ways can estate planning help my beneficiaries?
After discussing the particulars of your estate and what you want to accomplish, our office may recommend that you change the way you own or hold title to some of your property such as life insurance policies, real estate and other possessions. The ways you hold title to property can affect your total estate plan, including the need for probate and the taxes that must be paid during your lifetime and on your death.
Our office has flat rate fees for simple documents. If your estate requires more time than our flat fees allow for, we would charge based on the time it takes to fully discuss your estate and then produce the appropriate documents.
This website is for general information only. If you have questions or need advice, please call 206-789-6655 or 425-882-7900 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Law Offices of Peter F. Cowles, PS. 1734 NW Market Street, Seattle, WA 98107 (main location & mailing address) and meetings available at: Thinkspace, 8201 - 164th Avenue NE, Suite 200, Redmond, WA 98052.