Have You Protected Your Most Valuable Assets? Estate Planning Can Ensure That You Have
Estate planning varies from individual to individual and family to family. Our advice and estate planning packages are therefore as diverse and varied as the people we serve, but they are always crafted to serve your specific needs, intentions and goals. Your estate planning package includes a will, a durable power of attorney for financial decisions and one for healthcare decisions, a health care power of attorney, a living will, and a community property agreement if it makes sense in your case. There are many planning tools available depending on your personal situation. Whether it is tax planning, mixed family or domestic partnership issues, preparedness for illness or disability, charitable planning or trust creation, Selander O’Brien’s Seattle Estate Planning Attorneys offer you the full range of possible solutions to your estate planning needs.
Estate planning can be complex, and requires knowledge in many areas of law as well as familiarity with the IRS code and Washington State estate tax laws. Your estate planning could include trusts created for beneficiaries with special needs, guardians nominated for minor children, trusts created for your minor children, and marital trusts created to shelter your estate from paying taxes. Contact us now to review your current will or to get started with your estate planning.
How Our Seattle Estate Planning Attorneys Can Help You
Jeannie O’Brien, an experienced Seattle estate planning attorney, offers an array of services and planning tools to best represent you. Among them are the following:
- Estate Planning. Drafting and creating wills, powers of attorney, health care directives, living wills or trusts depending on your situation and needs.
- Representing You as Personal Representative. We provide representation of the Executor or Personal Representative of a will in probate. We provide you with drafted documents to open and proceed through probate and we go to court on your behalf when necessary, so you don’t have to. We help you make decisions and negotiate with creditors. We advise you about how and when to distribute assets to beneficiaries and provide you with counsel on your legal duties and obligations as personal representative. Our firm is experienced with a wide range of probate issues and problems and can assist you if litigation were to arise.
- Beneficiary Representation. We also provide representation of beneficiaries and heirs within the probate context. We can assist you with determining your legal rights, help you protect your inheritance, and require those named as personal representative to account for their actions, commencing litigation or “will contests” as necessary.
- Fiduciary Representation. In addition to representing personal representatives and beneficiaries, we also represent other fiduciaries: trustees and attorneys-in-fact acting under a durable or health care power of attorney. If you are a named fiduciary, we can help you understand your legal obligations and duties.
- Tax Planning. We are experienced with estate tax planning. The federal estate tax taxes certain gifts made to beneficiaries during your lifetime or upon your death if your gross estate exceeds a certain threshold amount. This federal tax is imposed after you have already paid income or dividend or capital gains tax on the asset you are gifting. Washington State also levies a separate estate tax. Washington has one of the highest estate tax rates in the nation, but does not currently tax gifts made by you while you are living. If your estate is worth in excess of the yearly federal and state exemption amounts upon your death, this portion of your estate could face a tax of around 50%. Contact us for further information.
How to Get Started
The questionnaires below serve as a guide for us to get to know you before you come in for your first client meeting. Please download, complete and send back to us.
If you are interested in estate planning:
If someone has died and has a house or property in his or her name:
Please contact us if you have any questions or need assistance with estate planning.
What Clients Say
When my father passed away suddenly and unexpectedly, within days of the birth of my daughter, it was an incredibly difficult and emotional time for my family. In addition to being faced with shock, loss and grief, we were faced with a complicated and challenging estate to settle. It was overwhelming. We hired Jeannie to handle his estate and she did a wonderful job. I have known Jeannie long before I needed her services as a lawyer. Jeannie is a great lawyer and a wonderful, compassionate person. When the time came that I needed a lawyer, I went straight to Jeannie and will forever be grateful to her for all her help.
I have worked with Jeannie in a number of probate, property transfer and estate planning capacities. She and her husband Ken even met with me at a nursing home so my good friend could update her will. She always kept me informed and was always there when I needed help. I just think she's wonderful. I would come back to her for anything.
What is a durable power of attorney and what does it do?
Estate planning includes planning for illness, disability or incompetency. Many of us will go through a period in our lives when we are injured, sick, or disabled. Being prepared with the right legal documents can make all of the difference in how you are treated if you are no longer able to care for yourself properly.
Powers of attorney are only valid while you are alive. The function of a power of attorney is to give voice to your needs through another person that you know and trust in the event you are not able or available to make the decisions on your own. Through the grant of authority to an attorney-in-fact for financial and health care issues, you can provide for your needs on every level, including small items such as who will have authority to pick up your mail at the post office, to more profound items such as who will have authority to arrange for hospice care at your home. A power of attorney document allows you to nominate the person or persons to make these decisions for you, rather than having the court decide who should be your guardian in a costly guardianship proceeding when it is too late for you to competently make these nominations.
What is probate?
Probate is the name for the court proceeding during which the assets of a decedent’s estate are administered and distributed according to the provisions of the will. Part of the process includes notifying all people who are owed money by the decedent, and publishing notice to all potential creditors of the decedent. Probate is also the process whereby trusts created within the will are funded, and guardianships are set up for minor children.
All valid wills must at least be filed in the courthouse of the County wherein the decedent resided, and if there is real property (a house or a piece of property) to transfer, a probate must be commenced. When a person dies without a will or will substitute, there can still be a probate to transfer real property, but it involves some extra procedures.
If you have been named as an Executor or Personal Representative in a will, Selander O’Brien can help you with the probate. And if you are related to or have had a close relationship with someone who has died without a will, we can help you too.