https://theharborlawgroup.com Personalized legal solutions for individuals and businesses Wed, 22 Jul 2020 15:19:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 https://theharborlawgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/cropped-Habor-Law-Group_Horiz_Long-Name_color-1-32x32.png https://theharborlawgroup.com 32 32 What are the Pros and Cons of a Power of Attorney Document? https://theharborlawgroup.com/do-i-need-a-power-of-attorney/ https://theharborlawgroup.com/do-i-need-a-power-of-attorney/#respond Wed, 22 Jul 2020 15:19:18 +0000 https://theharborlawgroup.com/?p=960 If you are reading this article, you probably know that you need a power of attorney.  But you also may be wondering – what the heck IS a power of attorney document?  This super important document is simply an estate planning tool that allows someone you trust (more on this later) to make important financial […]

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pros and cons of power of attorney

If you are reading this article, you probably know that you need a power of attorney.  But you also may be wondering – what the heck IS a power of attorney document?  This super important document is simply an estate planning tool that allows someone you trust (more on this later) to make important financial and medical decisions on your behalf while you are still living. Who needs a power of attorney document?  Absolutely everyone should have one!  

In this article, we discuss the pros and cons (hint: there aren’t any!) of this document. However, if you would rather skip the boring reading and go straight to the source, please give us a call for a free consultation with one of our friendly attorneys.

What are the different types of Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document that appoints someone to manage your finances and medical decisions if you are unable to do so. There are three types of powers of attorney:

Limited Power of Attorney

A limited power of attorney allows someone to represent you in a particular matter. For instance, you might give your child in another state permission to sign a legal document for you.

General Power of Attorney

A general power of attorney gives someone comprehensive power to exercise all the rights you have. This enables someone to make all decisions for you, but this power of attorney ends when you become incapacitated or die.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney, which can be limited or general, can take effect upon signing and remains intact after you become incapacitated. This is the most common type of power of attorney, and the one we routinely create for our clients. If you become incapacitated and do not have a durable power of attorney, a court will need to appoint a guardian to represent you. You have been forewarned – the process of obtaining guardianship over a person is costly and takes lots of time!    

Do I Need a Power of Attorney?

When considering a power of attorney, or any other estate planning document, we encourage our clients to weigh the benefits and risks of that choice. So what are the pros and cons of a power of attorney?

Benefits of a Power of Attorney

In short, there are no cons to a power of attorney.  But, there are numerous benefits.

One advantage of a general power of attorney is convenience, allowing someone to sign documents and conduct transactions for you. (For example, a wife could refinance the house acting as her husband’s power of attorney and signing on behalf of them both.)

In emergency situations, such as a sudden medical issue, a power of attorney allows you to choose who will make difficult medical decisions for you. In tense situations, families often argue over the best course of action for their sick or injured loved one. You can take this argument away from your family by appointing a specific person to be in charge of making critical healthcare decisions. Likewise, having a power of attorney in place can bring you great reassurance in the face of aging or illness since you know exactly how you and your estate will be handled – and by whom! 

Potential Risks of a Power of Attorney

Remember when we said you should choose someone you trust? Although there are no cons to having a power of attorney document in place, a power of attorney places an enormous amount of power in one person’s hands. You should make absolutely certain that you trust the person you designate with power to make these important decisions for you. Even more, make sure that this person agrees with you on medical care preferences and financial decisions. When you select the right person in your power of attorney, it eliminates the risk involved in this valuable legal document. 

Discussing candidates for your power of attorney with an experienced estate planning lawyer will help you minimize any risk associated with a power of attorney.  For example, our clients often suggest having both their children act together. Although this may be a fine idea in certain circumstances, the nuances of family dynamics, coupled with a stressful situation, often make joint power holders a bad idea. Before making your decision on who you will list first, our attorneys will talk through all of your options with you.

Contact an Estate Planning Attorney

Reassure yourself about decisions that might be made if you become incapacitated. Rather than relying on a do-it-yourself document, call one of the experienced and compassionate estate planning attorneys at The Harbor Law Group. We offer a free consultation, where you can ask us any questions about our law firm or estate planning documents. If you’re ready to get started on a power of attorney, contact us to set up a meeting.

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Guide to Estate Planning in California and Washington https://theharborlawgroup.com/washington-state-estate-planning/ https://theharborlawgroup.com/washington-state-estate-planning/#respond Wed, 22 Jul 2020 14:54:26 +0000 https://theharborlawgroup.com/?p=945 We’ve all heard the phrase “you can’t take it with you”. But that begs the question…what do you do with your stuff when you pass away!?  Do you leave it all to your spouse? Your kids? Give some assets to a special charity? Should you account for the grandkids? There’s a lot to sort out […]

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washington state estate planning

We’ve all heard the phrase “you can’t take it with you”. But that begs the question…what do you do with your stuff when you pass away!?  Do you leave it all to your spouse? Your kids? Give some assets to a special charity? Should you account for the grandkids? There’s a lot to sort out when setting up an estate plan. 

Estate planning can be an emotional and stressful task. It can also be an incredibly meaningful opportunity to reflect on your life and think about your legacy. You don’t want just any lawyer to assist you in this significant task.  

You need a compassionate, skilled attorney who will provide you both insightful legal advice and emotional support. You can find this ideal combination in the attorneys at The Harbor Law Group, where we offer comprehensive plans that take into account your financial and personal legacy. To learn more about estate planning in both California and Washington state, contact our attorneys for a free consultation.

What Is Estate Planning?

Estate planning involves making decisions for the distribution of your property, and possibly for the care of your minor children, after you die. It is a complicated area of law, which is why you need an experienced attorney to help you navigate the many pitfalls. 

Much of estate planning focuses on passing your property efficiently, while minimizing estate taxes. For example, did you know that in Washington state, an estate tax is imposed on all estates in excess of $2.193 Million?  (Oddly enough, California has no such tax.) And let’s not forget about the Federal Estate Tax, which will tax 40% of anything over its minimum. Careful estate planning in both California and Washington States allows you to minimize negative estate tax repercussions, maximize the tax basis of your assets, and protect more of your assets for those you love.

An estate plan allows you to clarify your wishes in binding, legal documents. These legal documents instruct:

  • Who will receive your property?
  • What property will they receive?
  • When will they receive this property?

Whether you choose to distribute your entire estate upon your death or gradually give things away during (or even after!) your lifetime, our attorneys can help. We want to protect your assets and ensure they are passed along the way you want.

What Is an Estate?

Your estate includes all of your money and property. Your estate might include these possessions:

  • Real property, such as homes and land;
  • Personal property, such as automobiles, heirlooms, and furniture; 
  • Checking and savings accounts; 
  • Retirement and Investment Accounts; and 
  • Insurance policies.

An estate consists of everything that you have worked for and built during your lifetime. Along with your relationships with the people you loved, an estate holds your legacy.

How Does Marriage Affect Your Estate?

Washington and California are community property states. This means that if you are married, some assets will be handled a little differently when you die than they might be in other states.  

All assets acquired during your marriage are considered community property. This means that your spouse owns half of all those assets, no matter whose name they are in. For example, if you have a boat in your name that you bought with money earned while you were married, your spouse automatically owns half of it, regardless of title. When you pass away, you can leave half of your community property assets to whomever you choose in your will, but the other half will remain with your spouse.

Conversely, assets you had before you got married are considered separate property. Inheritances and gifts you received during the marriage are also separate property. As long as you keep these assets separate, you can leave them to anyone you want in your will. But once you commingle them, they can become community property. For example, if you inherited $100,000 from your parents and put it in a joint bank account with your spouse, it may become community property.

Many Washington and California couples create community property agreements as part of their estate plan. These agreements automatically transfer all community property to a surviving spouse at death while avoiding probate. This type of agreement is not for everyone, however. Your estate attorney can help you understand the pros and cons of a community property agreement.

What About My Legacy? 

In addition to passing your property to your loved ones, our firm understands the complex emotional side of estate planning. This is why, in addition to all of the legally required documents, our firm offers a number of unique planning opportunities, like: 

  • A family meeting: we want your family to fully understand the nuances of the plan you’ve selected (including important medical information); 
  • A legacy interview: the opportunity for you to record and leave valuable insight or messages of love to your family; 
  • A babysitter’s booklet: for those with young children, this valuable tool gives your babysitter instructions in case of emergency; and
  • An asset spreadsheet: do your loved ones where you bank or how to pay your mortgage? This incredible document is a map which will aid your loved ones in case of your death or incapacity.

Important Estate Planning Terms

Our female-owned law firm is unique in several ways. For one, we believe in transparent pricing, such as offering flat-fee estate planning.  Also, we don’t try to impress you with fancy-sounding legal words. We want you to understand everything about your estate plan, from beginning to end. Following are a few of the more common terms you might hear in our office: 

  • Beneficiary: A named person who receives your property through a will, trust, or other instrument;
  • Decedent: A person who died;
  • Executor or personal representative: A person who distributes your estate after you die;
  • Guardian: Someone who makes legal decisions for or manages the property on behalf of a minor or incapacitated person;
  • Probate: The court-supervised process of distributing property after someone’s death; and
  • Living Trust: A legal agreement where property is managed by one or more individuals for the benefit of the beneficiaries.

Knowing these legal terms will make your estate planning conversations easier to understand. If you ever have a question about a legal term or an estate planning option, please ask us. Our knowledgeable attorneys value open communication and trusted relationships with the clients we serve.

What Documents Do You Need?

When you meet with our Washington and California state estate planning attorneys for a complimentary consultation, we will discuss documents that you may need to create a comprehensive estate plan. To ensure that your estate efficiently transfers to the people you want to have it, we will consider the following documents:

  • Last Will and Testament,
  • Living Trust,
  • Beneficiary designations for all accounts (such as life insurance, retirement accounts, even checking and savings accounts!),
  • Living will (or Healthcare Directive), and
  • Powers of attorney for financial and medical decisions.

You may choose to include some or all of these instruments in your estate plan. Our attorneys can discuss the benefits of each and create a customized plan that meets your needs.

Contact us Today

Ensure that your legacy is preserved the way you want by talking to one of our experienced estate planning attorneys. We offer a free consultation, so you can get to know us and decide if you trust us with this important task. If you’re ready to get started, contact us to set up your meeting! 

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To DIY or Not DIY… YOUR ESTATE PLAN? https://theharborlawgroup.com/to-diy-or-not-diy-your-estate-plan/ https://theharborlawgroup.com/to-diy-or-not-diy-your-estate-plan/#respond Sat, 25 Apr 2020 20:07:18 +0000 https://theharborlawgroup.com/?p=862 "Why can't I just create my own estate plan?" Given the current COVID-19 situation which is keeping us all at home, I thought this was the perfect time to address this topic. I am asked this a lot.  I mean, why can't you do a Last Will and Testament at home? It's easy, right? First, […]

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"Why can't I just create my own estate plan?"

Given the current COVID-19 situation which is keeping us all at home, I thought this was the perfect time to address this topic. I am asked this a lot.  I mean, why can't you do a Last Will and Testament at home? It's easy, right?

First, let’s take a look at Legal Zoom’s disclaimer: “We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies.”

Remember the old adage, 'you don't know what you don't know?' Never was that more fitting than in the realm of estate planning.  (This probably applies equally to, say, race-car driving, but that’s not our current topic!)

Did you know: 

  • Presently, there is somewhere in the neighborhood of $80 Billion in state departments of unclaimed property across the country?  These are assets that went unaccounted for, about which surviving family members knew nothing, and are now being held by the state!
  • If you do not have a power of attorney in place, drafted correctly, and witnessed according to state law, your family may have to go to Court to get guardianship over you in case of your incapacity. This could take weeks or months.
  • Washington state has an estate tax floor of $2.193 Million and your estate will be taxed if it exceeds that amount on your death. This can be avoided or mitigated with careful planning.
  • California probate takes one full year to complete, often longer, and the fees and costs charged are a percentage of the value of your estate. For example, a $500,000 estate can cost as much as $28,000 in costs and fees!
  • Beneficiary designations trump your Last Will and Testament. Have you checked yours recently?

For those with small children, if you don't choose your guardians, the Court will decide for you.  Without any planning, your children could also receive their inheritance at 18, rather than older, when they are more likely to be financially responsible enough to manage a windfall. Are you in a blended family and have kids from another relationship? Without considering how to account for that, your money could pass fully to your spouse or partner, effectively disinheriting your children.

In truth, incorrect planning can often be worse than doing nothing at all. You may inadvertently end up requiring your executor to obtain a bond (similar to insurance). If your executor has poor credit, the Court could require a court-appointed executor, which is costly, and time-consuming.

You may not give your executor non-intervention powers, which requires the court to be involved in it. Every. Single. Step. You could create a trust document that is neither warranted nor correctly drafted.  Or, you could exclude important provisions from your power of attorney, requiring your family to run to court if you are incapacitated.

Moreover, if DIY estate plans were so easy, why haven’t you completed yours yet?

Your legacy should reveal to your loved ones just how much you cared for them. If you have questions about how to correctly and comprehensively get your affairs in order, we are here and ready to help. (And by "here" I mean, virtually "here"!)   Contact us today!

 

 Kira M. Rubel

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What if my business is closed? Does the emergency paid sick leave apply to my employees?! https://theharborlawgroup.com/what-if-my-business-is-closed-does-the-emergency-paid-sick-leave-apply-to-my-employees/ https://theharborlawgroup.com/what-if-my-business-is-closed-does-the-emergency-paid-sick-leave-apply-to-my-employees/#respond Mon, 13 Apr 2020 19:29:36 +0000 https://theharborlawgroup.com/?p=845 This is an inquiry I received from several clients yesterday regarding the emergency paid sick leave, so I wanted to follow up and make clear: DO NOT PANIC. The emergency paid sick leave only applies if your business is still open (physically or virtually) and an employee is unable to work because she is quarantined […]

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This is an inquiry I received from several clients yesterday regarding the emergency paid sick leave, so I wanted to follow up and make clear: DO NOT PANIC.

The emergency paid sick leave only applies if your business is still open (physically or virtually) and an employee is unable to work because she is quarantined by state or local order, has to care for a child whose school is closed due to COVID, is required to care for a sick loved one, or is sick herself, AND (*this is important*) is unable to telecommute.

You will receive a tax credit for payments made pursuant to this Act. Small businesses with less than 50 employees may apply for an exemption if this would jeopardize the ongoing viability of their business.

However, and this is important, PLEASE review the information found at the Department of Labor. This Law is nuanced, and it is impossible to cover all of its provisions in a short blog post as everyone's situation will vary, but it will give you an overview of the emergency paid sick leave.

Obligatory Legal Disclaimer: this is not legal advice! Not even close! Contact us if you need more information or need to inquire about your specific situation. Don't be shy!

Kira M. Rubel

*Licensed in CA and WA

The Harbor Law Group (formerly, Law Office of Kira M. Rubel)

3615 Harborview Drive NW, Suite C (on the dock)

Gig Harbor, WA 98332-2129

Tel.  (253) 251-2955 | (800) 836-6531

Fax. (206) 238-1694

Zoom ID. (253) 251-2977

www.theharborlawgroup.com

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COVID-19 Federal Funding is Available for Small Businesses! https://theharborlawgroup.com/covid-19-federal-funding-is-available-for-small-business/ Thu, 02 Apr 2020 16:06:44 +0000 https://theharborlawgroup.com/?p=832 What is the Family First Corona Virus Response Act or FFCRA? To all the small business owners, we are here to break it down the “Family First” for you! Whew! Times are tough, am I right? Store fronts are closed, everyone is working from home with their kids (which is totally a recipe for success, […]

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Family First Corona Virus Response Act

What is the Family First Corona Virus Response Act or FFCRA?

To all the small business owners, we are here to break it down the “Family First” for you!

Whew! Times are tough, am I right? Store fronts are closed, everyone is working from home with their kids (which is totally a recipe for success, IMHO), yet the bills still come, the rent is still owed, and we somehow need to also help our employees. Oh, and pay our personal bills. Oh, and stay sane. (FYI, I am writing this post with a three-year old at my feet. Sane is my middle name…)

Enter: The Federal Government. It has put together some pretty great programs to aid small businesses. Although you’ve probably heard of most of these, I wanted to put together a very succinct list, along with web addresses on where to find more information.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was passed on March 18.

This Act’s primary focus is on providing resources to operating businesses and current employees. This Act expands the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to employers with fewer than 500 employees. (Yikes… that’s us, small businesses!).  Thus, it requires employers to provide paid-leave to employees that cannot work (or telework) for specified reasons. Businesses will be entitled to a tax credit in the amount paid to employees.

Here are the websites:

FFCRA Paid Leave Requirements

Department of Labor’s FFCRA Q&A

The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) was signed into law on March 27.

This Act offers aid to closed and closing businesses and employees that have been laid off. It also provides relief for individuals and families. It’s pretty amazing.

The Act provides many things, but here are the highlights.

  • Additional unemployment funds are being sent to the states to provide terminated employees their normal wages (instead of their fractional unemployment pay).
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) are being made available to small businesses for payment of rent and other operating expenses. Terms are very favorable.
  • An up-front grant of up to $10,000 is available in certain circumstances. (Application Here)

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

Additionally, Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans provide small businesses with loans to continue to pay employees, employee benefits, and other qualifying expenses. The amount spent during the eight (8) weeks after the origination of the loan will be forgiven. (AMAZING!) These loans must be obtained through your bank. You have to apply “in person” but many banks are accepting phone applications.

Lastly, you may be getting a check straight from the government! Certain qualifying individuals will receive a one-time payment of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child (for people who earn no more than $75,000 as a single person or $150,000 as a couple. For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds).

Read more about The CARES Act.

In addition to the government, private companies are providing assistance as well. I am told by many clients that mortgage lenders, banks, and credit cards are forgiving payments on lines of credit and loans for a period of time, reducing interest rates, and providing payment extensions or reductions. Don’t be afraid to ask for relief!

We are staying on top of these benefits and opportunities, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions!

Stay healthy and stay safe everyone!

Kira M. Rubel

Licensed in CA and WA

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The Harbor Law Group is “Virtually” Open! https://theharborlawgroup.com/the-harbor-law-group-is-virtually-open/ https://theharborlawgroup.com/the-harbor-law-group-is-virtually-open/#respond Tue, 24 Mar 2020 19:10:37 +0000 https://theharborlawgroup.com/?p=841   We’re “Virtually” Open! This is a unique moment in time. While I love this time home with my family, it has made me realize the butterfly effect we can have on others. This is why our office chose to close its physical doors two weeks ago; to ensure we helped to minimize the spread […]

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We’re “Virtually” Open!

This is a unique moment in time. While I love this time home with my family, it has made me realize the butterfly effect we can have on others. This is why our office chose to close its physical doors two weeks ago; to ensure we helped to minimize the spread of COVID-19 to our loved ones and others.

I am posting to assure our valued clients and friends that our office remains (virtually) open, and that we will continue to deliver our business and estate planning services, ranging from the essential and basic, to the complex.

How does your estate plan look right now?

Do you have questions on things that should be in place like healthcare directives, guardian designations, and powers of attorney?

Have you dusted off the will or trust you may have created several years ago?

If so, we have a couple options!

In the coming days I will host a webinar that discusses virtual estate planning and the caveats social distancing imposes on signing documents, witnesses, and notarizing. You can also email us at info@theharborlawgroup.com to schedule a time with me to discuss your specific planning.

I hope you and your family are and remain well. If you have children and are currently home-schooling, good luck with the homemade volcanoes and new math … I have already learned so much in the past week!

Warm Regards,

Kira Rubel, owner of The Harbor Law Group

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Why a Living Trust? (Part 2) https://theharborlawgroup.com/why-a-living-trust-part-2/ https://theharborlawgroup.com/why-a-living-trust-part-2/#respond Fri, 24 Jan 2020 20:36:32 +0000 https://theharborlawgroup.com/?p=815 We’re back to discuss more about why a living trust might be right for you! A Trust can provide creditor protection for the inheritance you leave to your spouse or beneficiaries, protecting those funds if that person is going through a divorce, bankruptcy, a business loss, or a lawsuit. The reason for this is that […]

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We’re back to discuss more about why a living trust might be right for you!

A Trust can provide creditor protection for the inheritance you leave to your spouse or beneficiaries, protecting those funds if that person is going through a divorce, bankruptcy, a business loss, or a lawsuit.

The reason for this is that the Trust maintains “ownership” of the asset, not the beneficiary (until it is transferred to his or her name).  Thus, during a hardship, assets can remain in the name of the Trust – and therefore a creditor of the beneficiary cannot compel the beneficiary to give something that is not hers.  In spite of this protection, the beneficiary will still have access to the assets in accordance with the directions you leave in your Trust, for things like education, health, maintenance and support, and, eventual distribution.

A Trust may also be used to ensure that a disabled beneficiary will still receive his governmental benefits.  Leaving your assets outright to a person who receives needs-based governmental benefits may result in their loss of governmental assistance, which is often vital over the lifetime of someone with special needs.  However, leaving assets to a person with disabilities via a Trust will ensure that those governmental benefits are preserved and that the inheritance you leave will be available to pay for expenses beyond that covered by these governmental benefits, resulting in a better quality of life for your loved one.

A Trust may also be set up to prevent premature inheritance of your assets by your children. Although minors cannot inherit anything before the age of 18, a Trust may be set up for their benefit to provide them with monetary support for health, education, maintenance and welfare when they are minors, thereby preventing them from being a burden to their guardians during this vulnerable time.  A Trust can also limit distributions for certain types of expenditures (e.g. to start a business, to pay for a wedding, etc.)

Using a Trust for your children also allows you to delay distribution until certain ages to ensure your child is mature enough to spend those funds wisely (think, a ROTH IRA or down payment on a house, versus taking all of their friends to Cabo for a month). Although we all like to think our children would judiciously spend their inheritance, the more likely scenario is that he would spend indiscriminately on things like cars, trips, and consumables, until the money was squandered.  A Trust can also be set up to hold the child’s money indefinitely, providing robust asset protection, while allowing more access as he ages into maturity.

Conversely, if you leave your assets to your children by Will (or without a Will at all – {please don’t do this!}), the Court will be involved from the outset and every year thereafter until the child turns 18, at which point your child would likely inherit their money. In addition to the fact that your assets are being aired in a public forum, your kids do not receive the benefit of your financial guidance vis a vis the language you could have left them in your Trust, nor the delay in distribution that a Trust provides.

Importantly, Trusts can often reduce or eliminate estate taxes. Although the federal estate tax is currently quite high, at $11.58 Million per person, that number is due to expire in 2025 and will decrease at that time to approximately $5 Million per person (adjusted for inflation).  However, the estate tax floor changes frequently, with the ever-changing whim of Congress. There is presently a bill to reduce it to $3.5 Million. It is not out of the question that it will be reduced dramatically at some point in the near future.  Any estates over the estate tax floor are taxed at a whopping 40%, so it’s important to be aware of this limit and use Trust planning to avoid paying taxes, arguably unnecessarily, to the government.

In Washington state, the current estate tax floor is presently at $2.193 Million, over which you will pay between 10-20% tax on a graduated scale.  Although Federal law allows you to earmark your spouse’s estate upon his death, so that the surviving spouse doesn’t pay taxes on the whole estate upon her death, Washington does not allow this “portability”.  Thus, Trust planning becomes absolutely vital for Washingtonians so that you can “split up” your estate between spouses. Interestingly, between retirement accounts, life insurance and a rapidly appreciating house, I find that many of my Washington clients meet the $2 Million threshold quite easily. (Please note – In California, where I also practice, there is no estate tax floor…surprisingly!)

Along the same vein as protecting against estate taxes, a Trust can prevent your spouse from a spend-down of her assets to qualify for state-provided long-term care coverage as she ages. Many of us are living much longer than we are able to adequately save for, particularly if assisted living or medical assistance is required.  In order to qualify for Medicaid as a single person, your estate must be virtually exhausted. Thus, many people are required to spend away from their money (including selling off their home, which would have otherwise provided inheritance to their heirs) in order to qualify for state assistance. However, if a Trust is set up properly, it may have the ability to set aside a portion of the family estate when the first spouse dies, forever protecting this amount from being counted in the surviving spouse’s estate for Medicaid/Medi-CAL purposes, maintaining an extra amount of money to live your life comfortably while still collecting state assistance and, ideally, maintaining your children’s inheritance.

Obviously, every situation is specific to the family and person.  Although I am a staunch proponent of DIY projects, your estate plan should not be one of them. Please, consult with an attorney for any estate planning needs, and certainly if you believe you need a Trust!

Kira M. Rubel

*Licensed in CA and WA

The Harbor Law Group (formerly, Law Office of Kira M. Rubel)

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Why a Living Trust? (Part 1) https://theharborlawgroup.com/why-a-living-trust/ https://theharborlawgroup.com/why-a-living-trust/#respond Wed, 15 Jan 2020 20:03:23 +0000 https://theharborlawgroup.com/?p=804 The Living Trust is a famed estate planning vehicle. It has long been thought of as a “rich person’s” estate plan tool, but that is absolutely not true in today’s world! There are multiple reasons why you may, or may not, choose to create a living trust for yourself and your family. Although I am […]

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The Living Trust is a famed estate planning vehicle. It has long been thought of as a “rich person’s” estate plan tool, but that is absolutely not true in today’s world! There are multiple reasons why you may, or may not, choose to create a living trust for yourself and your family. Although I am not a proponent of the living trust for every client, this article covers the reasons why you would want to consider one.

Before we begin this analysis, you have to understand what happens when someone dies; besides the obvious, of course.

When someone passes away, his loved ones often have to go to Court to get his assets re-titled to his heirs.  This is called “probate”.  Probate is often long and costly. It is often emotional and difficult.  Court is open during the weekdays during regular business hours only, when you would otherwise be at work, on vacation, caring for your children, or doing anything else normal.

The process is as follows:

  1. The heirs file a petition with the Court.These documents on file with the Court are public documents which anyone can read at any time.
  2. The Court issues letters which authorize the changing of title for various assets (think bank accounts, brokerage accounts, the deed to the house, etc.).
  3. The heirs then give notice to any known or unknown creditors and waits out the statutory period.
  4.  During probate, bills and accounts are frozen.
  5. Often, the assistance of an attorney is either needed or wanted – which adds to the expense of a loved one passing.
  6. It is a pain in the you-know-what.

How do we avoid this awful process, you may ask? A living trust is a quintessential tool that avoids this Court process at death, since the assets are already titled in the name of the Trust and are therefore immediately accessible to the trust-maker’s designated successor.  Moreover, changing ownership of the assets in the trust is as easy as filling out paperwork.

Read about how this process can be done differently in our next blog post!  (Our web designer tells us that shorter blogs are better...)

 

Kira M. Rubel

*Licensed in CA and WA

The Harbor Law Group (formerly, Law Office of Kira M. Rubel)

Schedule A Free 15-Minute Consultation

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