An estate planning package created for you at Selander O'Brien Attorneys includes a will, a durable power of attorney document, a health care power of attorney document, a living will, and a community property agreement if it makes sense in your particular case. Each package is individually tailored to your specific needs, wants, and intentions. Within your will you can have trusts created for beneficiaries with special needs, guardians nominated for minor children, trusts created for your children for their health, education, maintenance and support, and marital trusts created to shelter some, most or all of your estate from paying estate tax to the State of Washington or to the IRS. Estate planning is the area of law which allows you to plan ahead for illness, disability, and death. 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 offers you the full range of possible solutions to your estate planning needs.
Selander O'Brien Attorneys are experienced with estate tax planning. The federal estate tax is different from the federal income tax in that it does not tax income, but taxes certain gifts made to beneficiaries during your lifetime or upon your death if your gross estate exceeds a certain threshold amount. This tax is imposed after you have already paid income or dividend or capital gains tax on the asset you are gifting. The federal government imposes an estate tax, and Washington State imposes 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, the amount in excess could face a tax of around 50%.
Durable Powers of Attorney
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.
A living will, also commonly known as a Health Care Directive, is different than a Health Care Power of Attorney document in that it addresses only end of life situations, when the Power of Attorney allows another person to consent to health care procedures for you if you are unable to provide consent on your own for some reason. The living will is where you are able to expressly state whether or not you would want artificially provided means to keep you alive when your terminal medical condition is clearly irreversible.