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Archive for the ‘Estate Planning’ Category

Trust or Will: What’s the difference? 03.01.2011

While there are many complex reasons that a person might create a trust as part of their estate planning package, when our clients ask whether they should create a will or a trust, we start by asking three simple questions:

Do you own real property in more than one state? If you own property in more than one state, upon your death your estate will need to open a probate in each state where such property is located. Opening multiple probates can be costly and time-consuming. By creating a trust during your life and funding your real property into that trust, you can avoid opening multiple probates because a properly funded trust will allow your estate to be administered without any probate at all.

Do you have a blended family? If you have been married more than once or you or your spouse have children from previous relationships, you can protect the assets you’d like to go to your children by creating a trust. Unlike a will, a trust can ensure that your assets will be usable by your surviving spouse while, at the same time, protecting those assets for your children so that when your surviving spouse passes away, your children receive what you planned for them to receive.

Do you need to protect your money from beyond the grave? Often parents have reason to dictate what happens to the assets they pass to their children (or others). It’s not always a good thing to simply bequeath a large amount of assets to children who might not be mature enough to handle such assets. With a trust, the assets can be disbursed over a period of many years (sometimes decades!) so that the benefit of an inheritance can last longer than it might if it was all distributed at once.

Do you have questions about a will or a trust? If so, we can help! Attorneys in both our Battle Ground and Snoqualmie offices will talk you through the specifics of your situation to help you understand whether a will or a trust would be most beneficial for you. Call our law firm and and ask for a free estate planning consultation. When it comes to estate planning, we can turn your complex issues into simple solutions.

Anyone Can Make Mistakes 01.07.2011

Often times clients I talk with about estate planning feel like they’re the only ones in the world who are not doing a great job with their planning. That’s just not the case. Here are some examples of others who have made some of the most common planning mistakes:

“I’ve Got Time . . .”
It’s easy to put off making important decisions. In fact, some people put it off for so long, they never actually get around to making the decision at all.

Peter the Great held off on doing his estate planning until he was on his death bed. Unfortunately, all me could manage to say before he died was, “Leave it all to . . .”

Howard Hughes was worth several billion dollars when he died. Because he had never written a will, a court distributed his estate to his cousins.

Naming the Wrong People
When choosing who to name in your Will and Powers of Attorney, think carefully.

Doris Duke, of the family that founded Duke University, died without heirs but with a fortune of over a billion dollars. She named her butler as the executor of her estate, and it wasn’t long before the lawyers and the courts had to sort through the incompetence and financial abuse (at a huge cost) before removing the butler as executor.

Proper planning can make a huge difference in what happens to your estate when you pass away. If you have questions about your Will or Trust, give us a call.

Estate Tax Changes – UPDATE 12.10.2010

With Congress inching closer to finalizing a last minute deal that would extend the Bush-era tax cuts that expire at the end of this month, it looks as though the federal exemption level for estate taxes might return to the $3.5 million-per-individual levels last seen in 2009. While there is no guarantee that this deal will finalize before the end of the month, there is more hope than ever that some sort of an deal will be worked out so that we don’t see a return to the $1.0 million-per-individual level of 2001.

The extension of the Bush-era plan would be welcome news to most of our clients. Stay tuned over the next few weeks for more information on this issue. As always, if you have any questions regarding how federal tax limits might affect your estate plan, please give us a call at either our Battle Ground or Snoqualmie office. We are always happy to answer your estate planning questions – even if Congress can’t make up its mind!