"If I had only known ..."

The most common statement we hear from people who have gone gone through probate, a stressful estate resolution ordeal, or extended disability of an end-of-life family member begins with: "If I had only known ..... "

A rigorous and professional estate planning process will identify potential pitfalls and benefits that the form you downloaded from the internet or even attorneys who don’t specialize in this area can miss. A good estate plan can reduce disputes and heartache among surviving family members and beneficiaries, preserve assets, and reduce or eliminate loss of estate assets to taxes or creditors in favor of surviving beneficiaries.

Estate planning is something that anyone with assets and/or family should address. The benefits extend to the surviving family who endure less stress at a time of grieving and/or significant emotional and financial stress.

The absolute essentials of estate planning include the following documents:

  • Will

  • Medical and Financial Power of Attorney (POA), and

  • Health Care Directive (living will).

Individual circumstances may suggest a need for additional trust or asset-management documents or may identify a client's qualification for special state or national government programs such as Medicaid for long-term care or VA Aid and Attendance that may provide much-needed disability benefits or end-of-life benefits to pay for care. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Additional considerations in estate planning include:

  • Qualifying for disability assistance / aide programs such as Medicaid or Veteran’s Aid and Attendance

  • Accommodating special needs beneficiaries

  • Guardianship or vulnerable adult protection

  • Avoiding unnecessary estate tax on estates over $2M in Washington

  • Protecting minor children

Additional information is available in Frequently Asked Questions for Estates and Trusts.