You aren’t required to have a Will under Washington State law, but it sure makes things a lot easier if you do. There are a series of state laws that direct what happens if you do not have a Will, based on what the legislature believed most people would want. The statutes may work for your estate but it takes more time and money to deal with your estate than it would if you have a Will. A Will is basically a roadmap that tells the world exactly what you want and how we get there.
No. This is a common misconception but a Will simplifies probate, it does not mean you avoid probate.
A living trust is a document created to avoid probate. When created, you need to transfer all of your property into the living trust and then you are the “trustee” of the living trust until you become incapacitated or die. At that point, the person you appoint as the successor trustee would take over and, if everything is done correctly, there would be no probate or court involvement, but the same process would take place to wrap up the business of your life and distribute your estate to the intended beneficiaries. A living trust is a more complicated planning tool and should be done with an attorney.
You should appoint a trustworthy family member or friend as your executor. You can always change the executor later, but it’s important that you are comfortable with the executor when you sign your Will.
No. Orbit Wills only makes new Wills, which revoke any old Will that you have. If you want to make a change to an existing Will, you should contact an attorney to review your current Will and make the change (a codicil).
It depends. If you’ve been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s but still have lucid days, it might be possible to sign a Will. However, due to the complications with enforcement of a Will signed by a person with such a diagnosis, it would be best for you to work with an attorney to protect your document as much as possible.
Trusts for minors are great tools but should be discussed in detail with an attorney. At Orbit Wills, we direct money for minors to go to an account created under the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act, which permits you to appoint a custodian for the money who will manage the account for the minor child until that child reaches a certain age (18, 21, or 25). In a straightforward estate, that should be all that is required. If you do want a trust for your children, you will need to work with an attorney.
If a beneficiary is disabled and receiving needs-based benefits from the state (i.e., SSI or Medicaid), an inheritance may disqualify them for ongoing benefits. There are ways to protect that person’s benefits and allow them to inherit from your estate but it has to be done with very specialized trust language which is not included in a simple Will. If you need such a trust for a beneficiary, you will need to work with an attorney.
Prenuptial agreements are very specialized documents because they typically alter your rights under state law with respect to your rights after a spouse dies. A prenuptial agreement should be considered by an attorney in the preparation of your Wills. We would recommend you talk to an attorney to incorporate the prenuptial agreement into your Will.
Blended families can create several issues in this context and it would be best to discuss your particular situation with a lawyer.
You can purchase time with a lawyer at check-out if you would like to speak directly with a lawyer. If it is something that requires additional time than purchased, you can apply your payment to Orbit Wills directly to an estate planning package prepared with a lawyer at our office.
Generally, you should look at it every 3-5 years to make sure it still reflects your wishes. We also recommend you revisit upon “major life events” like a death, birth, move, purchase/start of a new business, etc.
The Financial Durable Power of Attorney is a document that appoints a person to make financial decisions for you if you become incapacitated. This includes everything from paying your mortgage and taxes to selling your real estate, if required.
The Disposition Authorization allows you to direct what should be done with your body after you die. Without such a document, your heirs are left with the decision and that can create problems. Here, you simply decide whether you would prefer to be buried, cremated, or composted (organic reduction).
In its simplest terms, probate is the court process to get assets out of a dead person’s name. A person is appointed by the court as an executor to be the “point-person” and that is the person that everyone will work with to sell property, close bank accounts, report taxes, make distributions to the beneficiaries, etc. Probates usually take at least four months but can take longer, depending on the estate and the people involved.
First of all, in Washington State, probate is not the nightmare that TV shows and movies will have you believe. It is actually a fairly streamlined process here that need not be avoided at all costs. However, there are times when it is beneficial to skip probate. If you are interested in avoiding probate at all costs, you’ll have to meet with an attorney to discuss as it takes very specific planning.
The executor is the person who executes your Will when you die; they take care of business. An executor is responsible for going to court to be appointed as executor, determining where all of your property is located, selling or liquidating your property, paying your bills and outstanding debts, mediating between the beneficiaries, reporting/paying taxes, and – ultimately – distributing the estate. This person needs to be trustworthy and generally sophisticated about business matters (e.g., taxes) and understand how to get the right people involved in your probate, like a lawyer and CPA.
You have to be 18 years old to sign a Will in Washington State.
Currently, Orbit Wills only prepares documents for Washington State residents. Please keep an eye on our website for additional states in the future.
You can assist someone else with the questionnaire but the person who will be signing the Will must certify that the information provided to Orbit Wills is correct and complete and reflects their desires.
The estate tax is a tax imposed on estates over a certain exempt amount. In Washington, that exemption is $2,193,000, meaning $2,193,000 may be transferred to beneficiaries without a tax. Everything above that amount is taxed. The Federal government also has an estate tax with an exemption amount of $11,200,000. These are high numbers but your “gross estate” includes everything … retirement accounts, life insurance, equity in your house, your clothes, etc.
You should talk to an attorney about the effectiveness of your old estate planning documents and whether they will still work for you in your situation. By using Orbit Wills, you would likely be revoking all of those documents and replacing them with the new Orbit Wills documents.
Regardless of what your Will says, your estate will have to honor the divorce decree when you die.
Yes, but it must be specifically done. In your Will, you will acknowledge the child and then provide nothing for that child. Make sure to clarify this in the Orbit Wills questionnaire.
We are located in a gorgeous part of Tacoma, Washington called Old Town. We are affiliated with the law firm The Narrows Law Group.
You should keep your estate planning documents in a safe place, like a fireproof safe or lockbox in your house. We don’t recommend putting the documents in a safe deposit box because it can be difficult to access those boxes after your death.
The Health Care Durable Power of Attorney is a document that appoints a person to make health care decisions for you when if you become incapacitated. This includes consenting to surgery on your behalf, moving you to an assisted living facility (if required), etc. Assuming you’ve completed a Health Care Directive, it does NOT include the decision to “pull the plug” if you’re in a vegetative state.
As of May 1, 2020, Washington residents can choose to have their bodies composted after death instead of cremation or traditional burial (interment). This process is called “organic reduction”. Read our blog post for more information on this option.