Estate planning is more than just preparing a simple will. A good estate plan will include some or all of the following:
Last Will and Testament
This sets forth your plan to distribute your assets; uses testamentary trusts to help reduce estate taxes and to protect your heirs from others and, in some cases, from themselves; and nominates guardian(s) to provide for the care of children.
Durable Power of Attorney
This can allow a person of your choosing to make certain decisions for you in the event that you are unable to do so. Powers of attorney can be narrowly drawn, such as for the handling of health care decisions, or can include broad, general powers.
Living Will or Physician's Directive
This gives doctors and your family advance instruction as to the nature and extent of the care you desire in the event of permanent incapacity or catastrophic illness. This can provide for the use or discontinuance of life support systems, the administration or preclusion of "extraordinary measures," and other important health care decisions.
In addition to testamentary trusts (included in a will), living trusts can be established to accomplish various purposes. Revocable living trusts are sometimes used to avoid the expense and problems associated with probate, especially where real property is owned in a state other than Washington State. Irrevocable living trusts are often used to handle gifts to minors, such as for education, and for keeping life insurance outside the taxable estate of an insured.
This can ensure that ownership and control of your family owned or privately held business is handled in the manner of your choosing.
Gifting is often used to reduce one's estate for estate tax purposes.
Community Property Agreement
This is sometimes used to avoid probate on the first of two spouses to die, but must be used only in limited circumstances because of its risks.
Probate and Estate Administration
Oftentimes, the only estate planning a person has done is the preparation of a will. A surprising amount of people have not taken the time to complete this simple step. In addition to estate planning, wills and trusts, our attorneys can provide guidance and representation for issues related to contested wills, the probate process, and estate administration where no will exists. The probate court process can be complex and frustrating, and the services of a skilled and experienced estate planning and probate lawyer can be invaluable in successfully navigating the process.
We understand that you have worked hard for what you have, and you can trust Oseran Hahn Spring Straight & Watts, P.S. to help you protect and preserve it. Effective estate planning, involving the use of wills, living wills, and revocable and irrevocable living trusts, can ensure that your assets are distributed in accordance with your wishes as efficiently as possible, while minimizing the tax burden on your loved ones.