How better estate plans, contracts and agreements can reduce stress in your life and help you prepare for a prosperous future.

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Seattle Estate Planning Law Blog

Careful estate planning can help promote children's success

Money cannot buy happiness is a phrase often heard. Families of considerable wealth in Washington often have concerns regarding the inheritance of their sizable estates. If children of such families have no concern for their financial future, it is thought that they may also lack a desire to succeed and become fulfilled and accomplished adults in their own rights. Careful estate planning can address this issue.

One of America's wealthiest women, Gloria Vanderbilt, recently passed away at the age of 95. Her son, Anderson Cooper, is an accomplished journalist, author and CNN correspondent. He has three brothers, one of whom died in 1988. Growing up, he believed there was no trust fund and that he needed to make his own way in the world. He has said that had he known that he would one day inherit, he may not have been as driven to succeed.

Estate planning in the digital age

The newest generation of adults grew up with technology. Many of them had cell phones from a young age and could even use computers better than their parents before they reached adulthood. This generation, often referred to as millenials, is comfortable with technology and often adapts quickly to new ones. 

What does this mean for estate planning? It means that younger adults like you in particular will need to pay close attention to their digital assets when considering their estate plans.

Estate planning can ease stress of cancer diagnosis

As women age, their health may become a primary concern as the likelihood of contracting a debilitating illness, such as breast cancer, increases with age in Washington. Estate planning may not on the forefront of one's mind in the wake of such a diagnosis. But it can have a positive impact on one's treatment options and serve to reduce stress and allow one to fully focus on one's treatment and recovery.

The prognosis for breast cancer patients has greatly improved in recent years and many are surviving to live normal lives. Treatment immediately following a diagnosis can be costly depending on one's insurance coverage. It is widely known that medical bills are one of the chief causes of financial problems in many households. Anticipating costs, adjusting budgets and revising financial plans can help address that issue.

Estate planning is needed for small businesses

Small businesses are among the major contributor's in today's economy in Washington. While people will engage in estate planning to protect their families, those who own small businesses are not always aware of the need for estate planning regarding the business. The lack of a succession plan could prove catastrophic in the event of the business owner's passing.

If a couple owns a business together and there is no plan in place for what happens in the event of one of the partner's deaths, the business could be thrown into chaos. If a contract is being negotiated at the time a partner passes and there is no contingency in place, the pending contract could be put in limbo. Such issues can be avoided if there is a plan in place that states who will run the company, and how it will be run, in the event of the owner's or partner's death.

Estate planning may be imperative for single parents

Children provide perhaps the largest impetus to creating an estate plan in Washington. With the arrival of a child the parents' concern naturally centers on the care of the child in the event that something happens to one or both parents. When one is a single parent, estate planning can become a more urgent priority.

Ensuring continuing care for one's child in the event of one's death or incapacity is of paramount importance to most parents. If a child's other parent is living, he or she will often be the designated guardian. However, there are instances when that may not be a viable option. In that event, there are many factors that need to be considered.

Lack of estate planning can complicate the sale of a family home

Facing one's own mortality and discussing it with family members is possibly one of the most difficult conversations a family can face in Washington. Failure to have an estate planning discussion can lead to major difficulties for one's heirs following one's death. Dying without a will or a trust in place can lead to family squabbling and infighting when a family should be coming together to support each other.

This can be particularly true regarding selling the family home. Siblings may not agree on the disposition of the property or its contents, and this can lead to a variety of problems. These can include whether or not to make repairs or updates to the property prior to selling, dealing with emotional attachments, and the length of time required to settle the estate. In one case, two siblings could not agree on the sale of the family home. The property languished for years until the one sibling died and only then was the property sold.

Estate planning should be done sooner rather than later

There are many unknowns that people may not want to contemplate as they grow into adulthood in Washington. One fact that is known that all should contemplate is that everyone will someday die. In order for one's final wishes to be carried out, estate planning is a task that should be tackled. No one knows how many years one has left, so it is better to act sooner rather than later. There are other reasons that people will give for not establishing an estate plan.

One of the most common reasons cited is the perception that one does not have sufficient assets to merit having a will. The fallacy here is that a will does not just allow for disposition of one's financial assets. It can also address one's final wishes regarding burial or cremation. Without an estate plan in place family squabbles could arise that would contribute to the stress of a difficult time.

Young people may want to consider their estate planning goals

As a younger adult, you may think that you still have a considerable amount of time before you need to start thinking seriously about estate planning. However, creating this plan as early as your 20s or 30s can prove immensely useful because, unfortunately, serious accidents or illnesses could strike at any time. Certainly, you want your loved ones to know your wishes should such an event occur.

Even if you do not have a substantial number of assets or a wealth of money, creating an estate plan can still benefit you. Understandably, you may not know where to start in creating your plan, so one of the first aspects you could consider is your overall planning goals.

Parents may offer better protection for kids with trusts

Few Washington parents take the time to create an estate plan, but those who do often believe wills are the best way to ensure their children obtain the assets parents leave behind. However, a careful examination of trusts may show that these tools can offer benefits wills do not. While a will is a good place to start when creating an estate plan, a trust can save money, offer privacy and protect heirs who may be vulnerable.

At face value, a will may be cheaper to execute than a trust. However, a will must go through the probate process, which typically requires additional attorney fees and court costs. Many parents like the fact that a trust allows their children access to their inheritance immediately rather than having to wait months for the probate process to end. Additionally, the contents of a trust are not a matter of public record like those of a will, so families can protect their privacy.

5 steps to selling your house without a realtor

If you are considering selling your house in the Seattle area without a realtor, you may be wondering what exactly you need to do in order to sell your house as a for sale by owner (FSBO). This process can be a lot of work for you as the seller, but you may also save yourself quite a bit of money.

Here are five steps to a successful FSBO: 

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