The most familiar estate planning document is a will, also known as a last testament. The person signing the will is known as the Testator (you).
Why make a Will? There are two very important reasons for making this document. The first is obvious, by making a will you choose who is to receive what you own at the time of your death. The second reason may not be so obvious; this document avoids many disagreements over the distribution of what you own at the time of your death, avoiding costly probate disputes.
Additionally, clients find it helpful to have their documents in order for the benefit of their spouse, minor children or other loved ones. Without a will, your estate is distributed by what is known as intestate succession. That means that the laws of this state decide who will receive your property at the time of your death, not you.
Another reason to make a will is for peace of mind. I cannot tell you how many people leave this office after signing their estate planning documents and tell me that they are so glad that they finally ‘got that done.’ This is especially true for parents of minor children where we spell out exactly who will raise the minor children and take care of their inheritance in the event that the unthinkable happens. We do not know the future, but we can still plan for it.
Formal Requirements: In Washington state a will must be typed, signed by you and witnessed by two people who will not be receiving anything from your estate. Additionally, for purposes of probate, an affidavit of attesting witnesses is required. The affidavit of attesting witnesses confirms that the witnesses either saw you sign the will, or were directed by you to witness the will. The affidavit also confirms that you appeared to be of sound mind and not under duress at the time of signing. Trunkenbolz | Rohr PLLC has decades of experience in drafting your estate planning documents in compliance with the formal requirements of the law.
Distribution: Once the formalities are met, you are free to decide who will receive what property and under what, if any, conditions. For example, minor children receive their inheritance in trust and you decide at what ages what distributions are to be made. Additionally, you name the person who will handle the minor’s money and who will raise the minor. You may choose the same person to handle the money and raise the child if you wish.
Signing Your Documents: Witnesses and a notary are on hand when you sign your documents with your attorney. Your documents will be letter perfect and reflect your desires and intentions. You are then given the option of having your estate plan retained by your attorney or you may take the original. Copies of your documents are provided at no cost. An electronic copy and paper copy are retained at the law office.
Changes to a Will: Your last testament does not become ‘set in stone’ until a person dies. As long as you remain competent, you may change your will. At Trunkenbolz | Rohr PLLC, we charge very little or not at all for most changes.
Confidentiality: We take your trust in our legal representation of your needs very seriously. Unless you direct us otherwise, everything you say to your lawyer remains confidential. No one can request a copy of your documents or even receive a confirmation that you came to our office without your consent.
What next?: There is nothing easier than making an appointment to discuss estate planning when you call our office. A convenient time and date is set for your appointment and your free initial consultation allows you to meet with an experienced attorney. Your attorney listens to your questions and concerns, gives you expert legal advice and suggests estate documents, including your will. There is no charge for this meeting and before you leave your attorney informs you of the flat fee cost for your entire estate plan. Call (509) 928-4100 to set an appointment. We are conveniently located in the Spokane Valley.
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