Walla Walla Estate Planning Lawyers
Estate planning is about taking control of how your assets are distributed and your loved ones are cared for after your death. Although deciding how your estate will be distributed upon your death can be a difficult and emotional process, it is often the best way to save loved ones from future stress. Whether a person chooses to draft a will, create a living trust, or both, it is important to have the advice of an experienced Walla Walla estate planning lawyer who can ensure that an estate plan is created properly and in accordance with state law. Here are some important steps to consider when crafting an estate plan:
Before Planning an Estate
Before a person actually creates a will or trust, it is important that he or she sit down and take a few important steps, including:
- Identifying all relatives who will receive property upon the testator’s death;
- Listing all assets, including personal possessions and real estate;
- Estimating potential estate taxes, funeral and burial expenses, and legal fees; and
- Creating a basic plan for how the property will be divided.
Taking these measures can go a long way when creating an estate plan, as it can save the testator (the legal term for someone who executes a will) time later on in the process.
Estate Planning Options
At this point, a testator should assess the different legal documents available, which could include:
- A will;
- A trust;
- A power of attorney;
- A health care directive; and
- A community property agreement.
The type of estate plan that a person chooses will depend on a number of factors, including the age, number, and identity of the recipients, whether the testator wants the funds to be used for a specific purpose, and the age and general health of the testator. It is important to discuss these considerations with an attorney who can help advise a testator on what option will best serve his or her needs.
What is Included in an Estate Plan?
Whether a person decides to create a trust or draft a will (or both!), he or she will need to provide an attorney with specific information, such as:
- The names of those who will receive each bequeathed asset;
- The identity of alternate beneficiaries who will inherit in the event that an original recipient passes away before the testator;
- The name of the executor (and a backup executor) who will administer the estate;
- The identity of the person who will manage trust assets until they are distributed according to the testator’s wishes;
- Whether a specific person will act as a guardian to the testator’s minor children;
- The name of the person who will have the authority to manage the testator’s financial affairs in the event that he or she is unable to do so due to illness or incompetence;
- Whether any of the testator’s assets will be left to charity; and
- Instructions on how a business should be divided or operated.
Some assets may best be served by going through probate, while others may be able to avoid the probate process.
Testators must also comply with specific procedural rules if they choose to draft a will, as only those who are over the age of 18 years old and are of sound mind can create a legally enforceable will. All wills must also be in writing and signed by both the testator and two witnesses. Failing to adhere to these rules could result in a will being contested and thrown out by the probate court.
Contact our Walla Walla Estate Planning Legal Team Today
At Basalt Legal PLLC, we offer a number of estate planning services, including drafting and revising wills, creating trusts, and working with financial advisors and accountants. Contact us today to speak with one of our experienced estate planning lawyers who can evaluate your case.