Processes Available After Death

When a person dies, many steps are required to clean up the affairs of the deceased. Depending on the size of the estate and the assets owned by the estate, different processes are available to simplify the after death process of transferring the assets to the beneficiaries. The different processes available include beneficiary designations and account titles, an affidavit of small estate, an affidavit in support of community property agreement, an adjudication of intestacy, an adjudication of testacy, trust administration and probate. This newsletter will attempt to explain the steps involved in each process and when the process can be … Continue reading

Is It Time To Update Your Estate Plan?

As of January 1, 2015, the amount exempt from federal estate taxes is $5,430,000.00 and the amount exempt from Washington State estate taxes is $2,054,000.00. As the amount exempt from estate taxes continues to increase, and the taxation of trusts becomes more complex, I am suggesting that my clients evaluate the necessity of a trust to avoid estate taxes and consider other changes that might be appropriate for their estate plans. To begin with, should your surviving spouse be named as the personal representative or trustee? I have worked on a number probates where the surviving spouse was not the … Continue reading

17 Ways to Help Your Personal Representative

Probate and trust administration can became a burden for the personal representative (executor) or the successor trustee. This newsletter will discuss 17 ways you can make the job of your personal representative or successor trustee easier, which ultimately means the probate of your estate or your trust administration will cost less. For simplification, I will refer to the person administering the estate or trust as the “PR.” This information applies to the probate of estates and to the administration of revocable living trusts. 1.         You should own bank or brokerage accounts that do not automatically transfer to beneficiaries at the … Continue reading

Worst Case Scenario

According to author David Bach in Smart Women Finish Rich (page 28), one in four widows go through their husband’s benefits within two months of their husband’s death. For this to be true, I used to believe that the husbands must have been underinsured. However, I am becoming very conscious of the fact that widows and widowers do not make good financial decisions in the year following the death of their spouse. I have had probates where the surviving spouse did not know what the couple owed or owned. One widow had not paid any bills during her marriage; she … Continue reading

Charitable Gifts

I recently probated an estate that left 19 national charities each a sizable portion of the remainder assets of the estate. My client had carefully and thoroughly organized his estate so that his estate paid no federal estate tax through the use of charitable deductions. However, five of the 19 national charities named in the estate, after receiving their checks, then requested an inventory and a complete accounting of the estate. This adds considerable time and expense to estate and trust administration – which costs are not paid for by the charity. Most of us probably assume that charities are … Continue reading

New Trust Rules

On January 1, 2012, new laws became effective concerning trusts and trustees. Although some of the changes merely clarified how trusts are to be administered, other parts created basically new standards for trustees. Notice Requirement On Death Of Trustor One part of the new laws makes administering a revocable living trust even more similar to that of probating a will. Just as a personal representative in a probate needs to send a notice of appointment to the heirs and beneficiaries of a deceased testator, a trustee now has a duty to send notice to the heirs and beneficiaries of a … Continue reading

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