Washington and Idaho Estate Planning and Probate Attorneys
Why Estate Planning?
We are advocates of proactive planning. The best way to help your family avoid probate litigation and other problems during the administration of your estate is to create clear estate planning documents, such as: wills, trusts, healthcare directives, and powers of attorney.
Our estate planning attorneys will sit down with you to discuss your estate planning options. There are many things to consider when determining your final wishes:
- Who should receive what property when you pass away?
- What choices would you like made about end-of-life care?
- Is there someone specific you would choose to control your finances should you ever become unable to do so yourself?
- Or, conversely, someone whom should not?
These are only a few of the many questions we will help you answer, and also why it makes sense to work with a law firm that not only assists with the planning, but also ensures the disposition of your wishes occurs as planned.
Our firm handles a variety of estate planning matters, including planning for the distribution of an individual’s property at his or her death and taking into account wills, taxes, insurance, property, and trusts so as to gain the maximum benefit of all laws, while, at the same time, carrying out the person’s wishes.
What is a Will?
A will is a person’s declaration of how one wants their property dispersed after death.
Generally speaking, a will is a legal document that coordinates the distribution of your assets after death and can appoint guardians for minor children.
As there are complex regulations regarding the validity of any will, it is important to consult an attorney with knowledge and experience.
It is also true that these regulations vary from state to state. Our attorneys continually seek out state-specific changes in the rules to be sure your wishes can be honored after your death.
A will is important to have, as it allows you to communicate your wishes clearly and precisely. It is advisable to work closely with an attorney to create and update your will.
What do you do if there is no will?
Without a will, the state in which you reside decides how to distribute your assets to your beneficiaries according to its laws. This is known as dying intestate, and the resulting settlement process may not produce the results that you would prefer for your survivors.
You can prevent this from happening by having documents drafted that reflect your wishes.
A properly prepared will generally include:
- Designation of an executor: person chosen to carry out the provisions of the will,
- Beneficiaries: those who are inheriting the assets,
- Instructions for how and when the beneficiaries will receive the assets, and
- Guardians for any minor children.
For assets that do not allow for the naming of beneficiaries (such as some bank accounts and real estate), the will is the place to designate who will get them, as well as any related special instructions.
Assets that pass through the will must undergo the probate process.
What is a Trust?
A trust is a fiduciary arrangement that allows a third party, or trustee, to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary or beneficiaries. Trusts can be arranged in many ways and can specify exactly how and when the assets pass to the beneficiaries.
A Trust provides multiple benefits, but is traditionally a vehicle used for minimizing estate taxes and can offer other benefits as part of a well-crafted estate plan.
Since trusts usually avoid probate, your beneficiaries may gain access to these assets more quickly than they might to assets that are transferred using a will. Additionally, if it is an irrevocable trust, it may not be considered part of the taxable estate, so fewer taxes may be due upon your death.
In order to establish a secure and regular income for loved ones left behind, many clients seek advice on Trust Establishment and Trust Administration.
By maintaining your assets in a Trust, you can minimize taxes and leave a larger inheritance. The use of a Trust is also a way to provide a steady income to the Beneficiary over the course of time, rather than distribution in a lump sum.
This strategy can reduce the Beneficiary’s tax and allow the Trust to grow through investment. Trusts can also be established that allow charitable organizations to benefit.
We have years of experience in estate planning and can prepare wills, trusts, powers of attorney and living wills. We have also handled many successions with or without administration.
Probate and Estate Administration
There are many responsibilities that fall upon the shoulders of those grieving the death of a loved one. Besides funeral arrangements and other immediate tasks, the deceased’s estate must be valued and divided.
At Clark & Feeney, LLP, we understand that the last thing you want right now is another burden to carry, and have helped family members, executors and administrators effectively navigate through the probate/estate administration process.
You can be assured that your goals will guide our representation and that we will be available to address your concerns.
What Is Probate?
Probate is the legal process by which a person’s debts are paid and assets are distributed upon her or his death.
What Is Estate Administration?
Estate administration includes the probate process as well as non-probate transfers of the deceased’s assets. Individual state laws direct the probate court how to distribute the deceased’s estate. State laws and procedures vary greatly, so it is important to consult a probate attorney with expertise in this area of the law.
We can help you ensure that the deceased’s assets are distributed correctly.
Probate is not always a smooth process. Sometimes, conflicting interpretations of a will, disputes about creditor claims, or other disagreement may arise.
We are experienced trial lawyers who can protect your interests during probate litigation, including disputes involving:
- Will contests
- Breach of fiduciary duty claims
- Misappropriation of assets
- Elder abuse
- Undue influence
- Asset valuation disputes
- Creditor claims
- Third-party claims against the estate