In Vancouver, Washington, estate planning is the process of deciding what you want done with your property after your death (which is, of course, a very personal decision), and then setting up the legal and financial arrangements to guarantee that your wishes are carried out.
While the drafting of a will (the document that dictates what is to be done with the decedent's property after death) is usually the central component of any estate plan, there are various other elements which you may want to include, depending on your goals, and your financial situation.
A will is rarely the only aspect of a comprehensive estate plan. Most people have very strong preferences about their end-of-life care, particularly when, and under what circumstances, they would want to be taken off life support, if that every happens. These wishes should be made in writing, and discussed with family. Furthermore, preferences on organ donation and funeral arrangements should also be made clear.
Most especially, an estate plan should give instructions on the care of your minor children. It should lay out who is to take custody of them, and, if possible, leave them a large sum of money to assist with this care. Of course, you should discuss this matter with the people who you want to take custody of your children, to make sure they can actually take on such responsibility.
What Type of Estate Plan Do I Need in Vancouver, Washington?
The answer to this question varies largely on your goals and priorities, as well as your age, health, and the amount of assets you have.
For example, if you're unmarried, and in your early 20's, estate planning is probably not the most critical thing in your life. However, if you're seriously ill, and/or unusually wealthy, estate planning might be a priority for you.
If you have a life partner in Vancouver, Washington, but aren't married to him or her, estate planning is crucial. If you want your partner to have most of the same rights and responsibilities as a spouse, it's usually possible with good estate planning. You should grant your partner power of attorney, so they can make decisions for you in case you become incapacitated. Furthermore, you should name your partner as a beneficiary in your will, because, unlike a spouse, a life partner will not automatically inherit your property if you die without a will.
If you are elderly, and have a large amount of assets in Vancouver, Washington, estate planning may be more critical at this stage of your life than any other. While estate planning deals with some morbid and unpleasant subjects (requiring us to confront the reality of our own mortality), it is crucial if you wish to live your life secure in the knowledge that your loved ones will be provided for to the extent that your assets allow.
Do I Need a Vancouver, Washington Estate Planning Attorney?
Estate planning in Vancouver, Washington is not always convoluted, but it certainly can be. In moderately-sized to large estates, with a significant number of potential beneficiaries, it is crucial to have the assistance of an estate planning professional.