Start the New Year Right by Making Your Estate Plan

Happy New Year 2021

Many of us love to make New Year’s resolutions. So, if estate planning is on your resolution list, here are some suggestions for getting started, no matter what you do or don’t have in place now.

If you do not have a comprehensive estate plan in place, take comfort from the fact that you are not alone. Planning for your eventual passing, or possible incapacity, is not a pleasant task, but one that is necessary to ensure that your wishes are carried out. Now is an excellent time to get a jump start on that New Year’s resolution to make your Estate Plan.

Will

One of the most important estate planning documents to prepare is a will. By executing a will, you are stating how you wish your estate to be distributed upon your death. It is especially important to express whom you wish to receive a share of your estate and prevent your estate, or a share of your estate, from going to an individual you do not wish to receive a share.

If an individual passes without executing a Will, their estate will be distributed according to Washington’s intestacy laws. Therefore, if you die without a will, your estate, or part of your estate, may go to a family member regardless of whether you intended that person to receive a share or not.

Durable Power of Attorney

Another essential estate planning document is a durable power of attorney. By executing a power of attorney, you are granting another individual the power to make financial or medical (or both) decisions on your behalf, should you be unable to do so for yourself. This is especially important because if an individual becomes incapacitated without executing a power of attorney, guardianship proceedings will likely need to be instituted to appoint a guardian to make financial or medical decisions on behalf of the incapacitated person.

The guardianship process, which requires petitioning the court, is more complex and expensive than executing a power of attorney. A guardianship hearing could result in a decision contrary to what the individual would have wanted and a guardian being appointed whom the incapacitated individual would not have chosen.

Advanced Health Care Directive

Lastly, it is also important to prepare an advanced health care directive, commonly called a living will. This document allows an individual to indicate their preferences in advance regarding the initiation, continuation, withholding, or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment should they later become incompetent to make these decisions. This document only becomes effective when an individual is incompetent, and in 1) a state of permanent unconsciousness or 2) an end-stage medical condition.

Similar to a power of attorney, if you do not have a living will indicating your preferred treatment should you be incompetent to express your wishes, another person will be designated (according to the relationship between the individual and the appointed healthcare agent to make end-of-life decisions on your behalf. Preparing a living will before you become incompetent will help ensure that the healthcare agent making end-of-life decisions on your behalf is the person you have chosen.

Begin preparing for the New Year now and stop procrastinating when it comes to an estate plan that will ensure your wishes are carried out the way you want.

STAY UP TO DATE

Subscribe to our newsletters

 
Subscribe to one or more of our newsletters, delivering meaningful insight on topics that matter to you and your family.
ebl home subscribe image

FURTHER READING

Latest Blog Posts

A Seattle family law attorney can help if you find you are in a situation where your ex is abusing your pet.

If you are an unmarried couple, a Seattle family law attorney can help you protect your partner through the use of wills and trusts.

A Seattle family law attorney can guide you with next steps should you discover that your spouse has been unfaithful.

An estate planning attorney can help you draft a will or designate some of your property as non-probate assets by creating various trusts.

Not sweating the small stuff is even more important during separation than it is at other times to have an amicable divorce.

Many people delay estate planning because facing sickness and death can be uncomfortable. However, preparation is necessary to have your wishes honored as you intend. With this in mind, consider the following suggestions to stay focused on these estate planning goals.

The thought of how to approach your partner for a divorce can be stressful, even if you believe they will take the news "well.” The upside is there are ways to communicate your intentions that can minimize the uncomfortable feelings you are experiencing while helping to make the conversation go more smoothly.

Probate in Washington state is relatively straightforward, especially with the guidance of a Seattle estate planning attorney at your side. Here is what you need to know.

Unsure where to begin gathering the foundation you need to go through the divorce process with confidence and well-prepared? Consider the following 10 tips to prepare for divorce.

Everyone who has anyone in their life needs an estate plan, even people who own little or no property.