The centerpiece of your estate plan can be built around either a Will or Revocable Living Trust (RLT). If a Will is utilized as the primary estate planning document, then the Will is submitted to Probate (i.e. Court) upon the client’s demise. In Washington State, probate is very streamlined and percentage fees are generally not charged by attorneys and/or the personal representative (i.e. executor). Accordingly, Wills are often used as the primary estate planning document. By definition a Will is not effective until death and if the Will contains any trusts (i.e. testamentary trusts), such trusts are not effective or funded until after death.
In contrast, a Revocable Living Trust (RLT) is created and funded by the client(s) while they are living and if done properly, then generally a Probate can be avoided. RLT are very popular in some states (i.e. California) because the laws are different in California (i.e. probate process is more cumbersome and statutes allow attorneys and/or executors to charge percentage fees for their services). Note, there may be very good reasons for establishing a RLT, for example, Washington State client(s) may own recreational property in another state (i..e Palm Springs condo) and want to avoid probate in the other state. A common misconception is a RLT offers more Federal and/or State Estate Tax protection than a Will. That is Not the case. A properly drafted Will can provide the same Estate Tax protection as a RLT. Since a RLT needs to be funded with assets, it generally will cost more than just preparation of a Will. However, many clients prefer to have RLT despite the additional cost. For additional information-you may consult the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA.gov) to review consumer pamphlets on this and related topics.Will/Trust Drafting Considerations
Following is a non-exhaustive list of drafting considerations for your Will and/or Trust:
- Nominate Guardian & alternate Guardian for minor children.
- Trust For Children (typically if both parents are deceased)-nominate Trustee & alternate Trustee to manage assets for children until they attain “mature” age(s).
- Personal Representative (i.e. Executor)-nominate initial PR and alternate PR.
- Trust to benefit Surviving Spouse for Estate Tax Purposes-to be discussed.
- Specific Cash Bequest(s) to other family members and/or friends? If so, $ amount of gift.
- Charitable Bequests-to be discussed.
- Tangible Personal Property (TPP) lists-establish TPP list if you wish to designate certain items of TPP to designated individuals.
- Remote Disaster-Provide for distribution of Estate if all named beneficiaries are deceased-typically the global universe is family, friends and/or charities.
1. Please either email (firstname.lastname@example.org), use my contact form or call 425-454-0915 to schedule an appointment.
2. Download either the Married or Single Estate Planning Questionnaire.
3. Complete the Personal portion of the Questionnaire. Note, the Personal portion of the Questionnaire will prompt you regarding naming Guardians & Trustees for minor children, Personal Representatives, Agents for your Financial & Health Care Powers of Attorney, etc.
4. In lieu of completing the Financial portion of the Questionnaire-just bring in copies of recent bank & brokerage statements, including any employment related financial information (i.e. group-term life insurance & retirement accounts).
5. Bring the Questionnaire & related documents with you to our initial appointment.