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The elements of estate planning

| February 8, 2022 

Devising an estate plan could ensure that someone’s preferences for asset distribution and other tasks occur upon passing away. Yes, crafting a last will and testament may be necessary to many Washington residents, and there could be additional steps worth taking. Estate planning may be more comprehensive than some realize.

Putting together a comprehensive estate plan

Washington’s intestate laws guide both probate and asset distribution when someone dies without a will. Intestate laws are uniform per statute, so the court won’t likely deviate from what the law stipulates. Writing a will becomes vital for those wanting to ensure specific beneficiaries receive particular assets. The will may spell out charitable donations and other wishes, as well.

A testator might worry about whether beneficiaries could manage their inheritance. In such instances, devising a trust could be preferable. A trust allows the deceased to maintain further control over assets even after death. A trust could also help beneficiaries avoid the probate process.

Other steps may help those wishing to avoid probate. Jointly owned properties with rights of survivorship and financial accounts with transfer on death beneficiaries would not require probate to shift to new owners.

Other elements of estate planning

Estate planning could also include various actions that do not involve someone’s passing. A financial power of attorney allows a living person to transfer decision-making and representative authority to a trusted agent. Sometimes, moving or sharing those responsibilities could be in the grantor’s best interests.

A health care proxy or living will focus on medical decisions, often when someone becomes incapacitated. When a trusted relative is able to make medical decisions for someone on life support, the process may be less stressful for the surviving relatives.

Estate plans could require revisions, as circumstances and net worth may change. People might wish to review their plans periodically as a result.

Further Reading

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