Can I Change My Last Will and Testament Myself?

In a world where do-it-yourself (“DIY”) projects are all the rage and the internet provides guides to everything from DIY home improvement to DIY tattoos, a person may be tempted to try his or her hand at revising/changing an existing Last Will and Testament. The unfortunate reality is that some matters- including estate planning- are […]

What are Advance Directives and Physician’s Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment?

By: BRANDON DOCKINS, Legal Intern A tragic lesson – why having an Advance Directive or POLST is important: In 1990, then 27 year old Terri Schiavo unexpectantly collapsed, went into cardiac arrest and never regained consciousness.  102 Am. Jur. Proof of Facts 3d 95.  Terri was subsequently put on life support with no hope of […]

What is a Trust and Estate Dispute Resolution Agreement? How is it used in Washington?

By: BRANDON DOCKINS, Legal Intern When a loved one passes away, disputes over the distribution of assets often arise. Such disputes can lead to a drawn out battle in court. This adds to an already stressful event, strains relationships, and can incur significant costs for all those involved, including the estate or trust. Fortunately, the […]

How is a Community Property Agreement used in Estate Planning?

By BRANDON DOCKINS, Legal Intern What is Community Property? Community property is property owned by a marital community or a domestic partnership whereby each spouse or partner has a present, undivided, one-half interest in the property. RCW 26.16.030; Olver v. Fowler, 161 Wn.2d 655, 670, 168 P.3d 348, 356 (2007). This means each spouse or […]

What is an Ancillary Probate? How do I Avoid it?

By: BRANDON DOCKINS, Legal Intern Probate is the legal process of administering assets upon death. However, probate can only reach real or tangible property within the state where the probate takes place. As such, when a deceased person owns real estate or tangible property in multiple states, there must be an ancillary (supplementary) probate for […]

What is a Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship Bank Account?

By BRANDON DOCKINS, legal intern A Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship (JTWROS) Bank Account is an account held in the names of two or more depositors whereby (1) each depositor can access all of the funds in the account without the consent of the other co-depositor(s) and (2) the funds of the deceased depositor […]

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Should I Avoid Probate Using a Living Trust?

Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person. When a person dies with a Will, his or her Will is admitted to probate and the Court appoints an Executor or Personal Representative to collect the estate assets, resolve creditor’s claims, and distribute the net estate according to the deceased person’s […]

What are Letters Testamentary?

When a person passes away, his or her family and friends are often left with many questions regarding how to settle the person’s affairs. Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person. When a person dies testate (with a will), the original will is submitted to the court as part […]

If My Parents’ Estate is Small, is Probate Necessary?

By LUKE O’BANNAN, Legal Intern Washington state has established a method for heirs and beneficiaries of an estate to collect estate assets, pay creditor’s claims, and disburse net assets to heirs or beneficiaries without going through the probate process. See RCW 11.62. Small estates, or estates with a low net dollar value, may use the […]

Non–Probate Assets: The Perks and Pitfalls

By CHELSEY THORNE, Legal Intern Non-probate assets are property that passes to a survivor by operation of law. These assets “pass on the person’s death under a written instrument…” and are not subject to probate.  RCW 11.02.005.  Non-probate assets include payable on death bank accounts, employee benefit plans, life insurance polices, and conveyances of life […]