Relevant and Concise Estate Planning Blogs

Wills and Trusts Do Different Things. Here’s What to Know About the Differences.

You’ve probably heard of a will (legally referred to as a Last Will and Testament). Most people have also heard of a trust. There are two main types of trusts covered in this blog - testamentary trusts and living trusts.  All of these legal documents are used in estate planning.  Almost everyone needs a will, but not everyone needs the benefits provided by a trust. Even if you decide that you want the benefits of a Read More

An Outline of the Washington Probate Process – and How to Avoid It

All states—including Washington—employ a legal process to close residents’ estates after they pass away. This legal process is referred to as probate.  In Washington, the probate process can be long and arduous - often taking 6-12 months or longer. Typically, an attorney is hired to navigate the process which can be costly. At Harbor Law Firm, we help you create a plan so you can avoid the probate process. After Read More

Washington State Estate Tax—What it is, and Tips to Minimize it

Both the federal government and the Washington state government impose a tax on assets after an individual passes away. Not all assets are taxed as there is an “exemption” amount—an amount of assets that are excluded from tax. The federal estate tax exemption is very high in 2021 at $11.7 million per person (however, Congress is actively trying to lower it to around $6 million this very moment). If you live in Read More

Most People Don’t Have Wills–Here’s Why

Depending on the headline you read or the survey you saw reported, you may have heard that nearly half of American adults don’t have wills…or that just 40% have made estate planning arrangements…or that almost half of people over 55 still haven’t made a will. While the specifics differ and there’s no exact measure, the studies and surveys all seem to agree on one thing: there are tens of millions of people in the Read More

Choosing Your Representatives in Washington State

When most people think about estate planning, the first thing that comes to mind is writing a will or creating a living trust. In other words, most people think in terms of passing property to loved ones. While that’s an important element of estate planning, it’s not the only one.  One area of estate planning that often doesn’t get enough attention is the selection of representatives to manage various aspects of your Read More

Choosing a Washington Healthcare Agent

One of the most important elements of a comprehensive estate plan is the appointment of a healthcare agent, also known as a healthcare representative. The person you choose will make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated. For example, your healthcare agent will authorize treatment and make choices for you if you are in an accident and are unconscious when you arrive at the hospital. Your healthcare Read More

What Happens When You Die Without a Will

Wealthy, high profile people neglect estate planning more often than you might expect. Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman passed away without a will in 2020, though Boseman had been fighting cancer for four years. While estate planning failures aren’t the norm among celebrities, they’re neither new nor rare. Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Prince and Bob Marley all died without wills. Phillip Seymour Hoffman famously Read More

Choosing a Trustee in Washington State

Depending on the nature of the trust, choosing a trustee may be a bit different from choosing a personal representative or selecting a healthcare agent. The personal representative’s role is short-term, and largely consists of wrapping up a specific list of tasks that must be completed in order to settle an estate. A healthcare agent is responsible for making specific decisions about your healthcare when you are Read More