Although few people look forward to planning for what will happen in the event of their death or incapacity, it is necessary in order to ensure that your family is well taken care of after your passing. A Will is a critical document that specifies how your assets, including your wealth and your belongings, will be distributed upon your death. Without a Will, the state will decide how your property and assets are distributed, which may or may not be the way you would like things to be handled. You’ve worked hard for your assets, and you have the right to decide how and when they will be distributed amongst your loved ones. Estate planning is a process that can help you make your wishes known and legally recognized, so you can be confident that they will be honored after your death.
In addition to a Will, you should also have a Durable Power of Attorney and a Health Care Directive/Living Will. A Durable Power of Attorney gives someone else the legal authority to handle your finances (pay your bills, manage your accounts, etc.) and/or make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself. A Health Care Directive/Living Will provides your caregivers, and your attorney-in-fact, with a statement of what type of care—if any—you want to receive if you are in a terminal condition. Thinking about these things is not easy—but it’s essential, and spending some time uncomfortably thinking about it now, while you are able, will have a huge benefit if the time comes when you are unable to think about it in the future.
Committed intimate relationships; same sex relationships
Couples in committed intimate relationships and same sex relationships often face special challenges when it comes to inter-family relations; even if their relationship is a legal marriage or a registered domestic partnership, some family members won’t respect the relationship and will resist having people they view as “outsiders” making decisions for their loved ones. These issues need to be faced head-on when drafting Wills, Durable Powers of Attorney, and other estate planning documents.
When engaging in estate planning, it’s important not to forget your “fur babies” and pets. Pet-centric estate planning can resolve such issues as where your pet will live after your death, and how their care will be financed. Your best option may be a bequest in your will, or even a specially crafted pet trust.
Elizabeth Turner is an experienced estate planning lawyer and has provided comprehensive estate planning services to Washington families for many years. She will use her expertise and resources to guide you step by step through the estate planning process in order to give you the assurance you need to know that your assets and your loved ones are protected. The office is ADA-friendly; however, consultations regarding estate planning can be held in your home or at another location, such as a skilled nursing facility, on request.