In Washington, "estate planning" broadly refers to the process through which someone decides what is to be done with their assets after death.
The first step in any estate plan is to figure out what you truly want to be done with your assets after your death. This is a very personal decision, and you should discuss it with your family, and others who might have a direct interest in your decisions. As for truly implementing your goals, you should probably speak with a legal and/or financial professional to figure out the best way to accomplish these intentions.
In addition to decisions concerning the disposition of your property, you should decide how you want to spend your final days. For example, many people have a strong preference about whether and to what extent they'd like to be kept alive by artificial means. Whatever your opinion on this matter is, you should make it clear to the people who will be positioned to make such arrangements for you, if you are unable.
A knowledgeable estate planner in Washington may also help you maximize the percentage of your assets that go to your chosen beneficiaries, by minimizing the impact of taxes and court fees. Moreover, preventing a will or other estate plan from being litigated in court will save your survivors an incalculable amount of time, money, and energy - and the better an estate plan is, the lower its chances of ending up in court.
Common Elements of Estates in Washington
Estate plans in Washington almost always have these features:
Will: A will is a written instrument stating what you want to be done with your assets after you die. There are many issues that can come up in the drafting of a will. However, because the will doesn't have any legal or practical effect until after the person who made it died, they can't exactly correct these problems when they become apparent. Therefore, quality drafting, usually with the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney, is essential.
Power of Attorney: This is an arrangement that gives another person the power to make certain decisions, typically related to finances and medical care, on your behalf, if you become incapacitated or disabled, and consequently unable to make or express your own decisions. You can choose who you give this power to. For obvious reasons, it should be somebody you trust.
Funeral Arrangements: This is a very personal judgment, and you should discuss it, in detail, with your friends or family members who are in a position to implement your wishes. Your funeral instructions should not be included only in your will, since wills are sometimes not read until days or weeks after the testator's death. By that time, it may be too late to implement the decedent's wishes with respect to funeral arrangements.
Do I Need a Washington Estate Planning Attorney?
Because these decisions are so crucial in Washington, it's almost never a bad idea to seek the counsel of an efficient wills, trusts, and estates attorney.
Interesting Facts About Washington
Washington is a state located on the Western Pacific Coast of the mainland U.S. Washington became a state in 1889. Before this, it was part of a region known as the Washington Territory. Washington state was named after President George Washington and is the only state to be named after a U.S. President.
Washington life is supported by an economy of agriculture, shipping, transportation, and heavy industry. Many of Washington's laws regulate these types of activities. Complex legal claims are heard at the Washington Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the state. The Washington Supreme Court produces many decisions that are influential across the country. A 2007 study showed that decisions coming from the Washington Supreme Court are the second most widely followed by all the appellate courts in the U.S.
Other important court bodies in Washington include the Court of Appeals, the Superior Court system, the Municipal Courts, and District Courts. Another interesting fact is that Washington's Supreme Court was the first court in the world to provide complete television coverage of all cases. These are televised year-round through the state's public television network.
Lawyers in Washington provide their clients with the legal services in accordance with state and national standards. Washington lawyers are skilled at interpreting the state's complex body of case laws and statutory codes. Legal questions and inquires can be directed to a local attorney in Washington.