The Washington Estate Planning Blog

Law Offices of David Ravi Sitlani: Helping couples, families, and individuals understand the ins and outs of estate planning in Washington State.

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    Law Offices of David Ravi Sitlani, PLLC

    Seattle Office:
    1001 Fourth Avenue
    Suite 3200
    Seattle, WA 98154

    Redmond Office:
    8201 164th Avenue NE
    Suite 200
    Redmond, WA 98052

    Phone: (206) 267-8777
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The ABC’s of Estate Planning: Power of Attorney

Posted by sitlanilaw on October 22, 2009

Recently, I have led workshops educating individuals regarding the basics of Estate Planning and why it is important for individuals to have an estate plan.  This series of entries is intended to offer you a summary of the materials presented at those workshops.  Today’s entry will discuss the basics of the Power of Attorney and what it does in the context of Estate Planning.  In the coming days I will discuss various other aspects of an Estate Plan including the Living Will or Medical Directive, Wills, Trusts, and Estate Planning & the Death Tax.

The Power of Attorney.

A Power of Attorney is a document in which you can name someone to make decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to make those decisions for yourself.  For Estate Planning purposes there are two different kinds of Powers of Attorney:

General and Durable Power of Attorney:  This is a Power of Attorney that is effective once it is signed by you.  That means that the person you name would be able to use this document immediately after you sign it.  General and Durable Powers of Attorney are often used when there is an immediate need to provide someone with the ability to act on your behalf.

Durable Power of Attorney:  This is a Power of Attorney that is effective when you become incapacitated.  Oftentimes this is referred to as a “springing” power of attorney because the Durable Power of Attorney only “springs” into effect when you are incapacitated.  The Durable Power of Attorney is generally used more frequently in Estate Planning than the General and Durable Power of Attorney because it requires you to be incapacitated to become effective and many individuals prefer to have control of their affairs while they have capacity.

Both the General and Durable Power of Attorney and the Durable Power of Attorney have a Financial and Medical component.  The Financial component allows you to name someone to make financial decisions on your behalf.  For example, if you were incapacitated then the individual named in your Power of Attorney could ensure that your bills were paid.  The Medical component of your Power of Attorney allows you to name someone to make health care decisions on your behalf should you be unable to make such decisions.  It is important to understand that the Medical and Financial components of the Power of Attorney can be part of one inclusive document but may be executed as two separate documents.  For example, you could choose one individual to serve on your behalf for Financial matters and someone else to serve on your behalf for Medical issues.

It is also worth noting that a Power of Attorney is often used outside of the context of Estate Planning.  For example, oftentimes a bank will have you execute a Power of Attorney for a particular bank account.  In addition Powers of Attorney can be used for specific transactions when you are out of town or otherwise unavailable.

In the context of Estate Planning, a Power of Attorney can protect you by ensuring that someone you name, and presumably trust, would be able to make decisions for you in the event of your incapacity.  Because of this characteristic some refer to the Power of Attorney as the first line of defense in Estate Planning making it a document that everyone should have.

The above information is not intended to provide the reader with any legal advice.  Please contact an attorney licensed to practice in your state with any legal questions. Using this blog does not create an attorney client relationship between you and The Law Offices of David Ravi Sitlani.

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Interesting Article on Estate Planning

Posted by sitlanilaw on September 3, 2009

Every now and then I stumble upon interesting article on Estate Planning.  This article at Forbes.com discusses some of the basics on Estate Planning in a way that is both helpful and easy to understand.  While this article is geared towards women it really provides information about Estate Planning that all of us can benefit from.  Not only that, it gives you something to think about before you meet with your attorney to discuss your estate planning needs.  I hope you find this article useful!

-David

Your Go-To Guide to Estate Planning:

http://www.forbes.com/2009/09/02/estate-financial-planning-forbes-woman-net-worth-guide.html

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The Pitfalls of Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning

Posted by sitlanilaw on September 2, 2009

In the current economy, many individuals are considering DIY, or do-it-yourself, Estate Planning.  While this is certainly a way in which an individual can save some money there are certainly some pitfalls associated with drafting your own Estate Planning documents.  Below I will discuss two of the main reasons why DIY Estate Planning is risky.

For one, the legal profession has its peculiarities, nuances and, of course very particular laws that must be followed.  Lawyers are trained to navigate these rules for their clients to ensure that their clients’ needs are met.  In the case of drafting wills, trusts or other Estate Planning documents there are a number of formalities that must be followed to ensure that the document will be respected by the court.  If certain rules or formalities are not met then it is possible that a will or other Estate Planning document could be challenged in court.  If a challenge occurs then it is possible that the Estate and assets will not be distributed as intended.

Of course the formality of drafting documents is only one of the issues.  Another issue deals with objectivity.  For example, when I meet with clients and develop an estate plan I go through a detailed process to determine the Estate Planning needs of my client.  Oftentimes it is through this process that a client and I discover an issue regarding a client’s Estate Plan that the client never considered.  I believe that an attorney’s objectivity and thorough questioning is an important step in the Estate Planning process that the Do-It-Yourselfer may not go through.

The goal with Estate Planning is to ensure that your needs are met, that your family will be provided for in the event of your death, and that, when the process is complete, you not only have a good understanding of the Estate Planning documents that have been put in place, but that through the process you have peace of mind that you have protected your family.

The above information is not intended to provide the reader with any legal advice.  Please contact an attorney licensed to practice in your state with any legal questions. Using this blog does not create an attorney client relationship between you and The Law Offices of David Ravi Sitlani.

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Escape from the Blog…

Posted by sitlanilaw on August 24, 2009

Well not really.  But I have promised myself to recommit with this Blog.  I suppose I took a hiatus of sorts – and we have had a great summer in Seattle.  But I plan to start blogging on a more regular basis on matters related to estate planning in Washington State.

Of course your comments and questions are greatly appreciated.

Blogging more soon!

-David

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What We Can Learn From The Death Of The King Of Pop

Posted by sitlanilaw on June 30, 2009

As a fan, I see the death of Michael Jackson as an unfortunate and tragic event.  It goes without saying that Michael Jackson had quite an impact on our culture and society.  Many of us who grew up in the 80’s can remember attempting a moonwalk or other Jackson-influenced break dancing move when we were young.  Frankly I was surprised at my emotional response to his death because of the connection his life had to my childhood.

As an Estate Planning attorney, I see Michael Jackson’s death as an educational opportunity.  At its very core and from an estate planning perspective this is a case of a single parent passing away with three young children, substantial assets and significant debt.  Certainly for the sake of Michael Jackson’s children I hope he has an appropriate estate plan that provides for his children and other loved ones.

Again, of primary concern are his children.  In Washington state individuals can name a Guardian for their minor children in the event of the death of both parents provided that they have drafted the appropriate estate planning documents.  Michael Jackson was a single parent and it is unclear if he named a Guardian for his children – however Michael Jackson’s mother has been named by the Court to be the children’s temporary Guardian.

The long term care for Michael Jackson’s children is in the hands of the Court.  This should be a clear lesson to all of us.  If you are clear and unambiguous as to who should be named the Guardian of your minor children in your estate planning documents the Court will likely grant your request.  However in the event that you fail to propose a Guardian, the Court, without any instructions from you, will have to decide the individual best suited to care for your minor children.  Unfortunately, this leaves the decision to some degree of chance whereas a well drafted estate plan should provide a parent with piece of mind that their children will be provided for.

Of course, Michael Jackson also has significant assets to pass to his heirs.  I hope that he has a clear and unambiguous estate plan so that his children will be protected.  In Washington State, Trusts, Wills, and other Estate Planning techniques can be used to ensure that the needs of the heirs are met, which will again provide the parent with piece of mind that their children will be cared for.

While sad, the sudden death of Michael Jackson is also quite illustrative of the need to have an Estate Plan in place to ensure that our children and loved ones are cared for in the event of our death or disability.

The above information is not intended to provide the reader with any legal advice.  Please contact an attorney licensed to practice in Washington state with any legal questions.

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More on Green Burials

Posted by sitlanilaw on June 23, 2009

I was recently at an event speaking with Seattle area proffessionals when I raised the topic of Green Burials.  I was surprised at the interest in the topic so I have attached some additional information regarding Green Burials below.

In retrospect maybe I should not have been shocked at the response regarding Green Burials.  The Pacific Northwest is a leader in the Green movement with our emphasis on recycling, composting, and other efforts to preserve the environment.  It clearly makes sense that there is a “natural” connection between being environmentally conscious and deciding to plan for a Green Burial when you die.

Of course there is a natural connection between Green Burials and Estate Planning.  Once you plan your burial (Green or otherwise), it is also wise to review and update your Estate Plan as needed.  Your Estate Plan could also incorporate your desire to protect the environment, e.g. via charitable bequests.  Clearly Estate Planning, environmental awareness, and Green Burials can go hand-in-hand.

As promised here are some interesting story links and websites devoted to Green Burials:

The Green Burial Council:     http://www.greenburialcouncil.org/index.php

Wikipedia Entry on Green Burial:       http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_burial

Green Burials in Washington State:     http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2009/jun/13/in-a-green-world-going-from-dust-to-dust-more/?partner=RSS

Thanks,

David

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Beyond Estate Planning: Green Burials in Washington State

Posted by sitlanilaw on June 15, 2009

Recently I discussed the importance of creating a legacy as part of your estate plan.  This can include leaving an educational legacy for future generations in your family as well as making a donation, either while living or as part of your estate plan, to causes and organizations that share your values.

An extention of legacy planning is what happens to our bodies when we are gone.  Green burials are becoming more popular accross the nation, including here in Washington State.  The attached article discusses Green Burials in Washington State and I will contine to post on this topic from time to time.

-David

Some WA funeral directors thinking green

The Associated Press

// <![CDATA[//

BREMERTON, Wash. There have been few formal green funerals in Kitsap County so far. But some of the county’s funeral directors are thinking green could be an important color in their future.

Dave Cook, owner of Cook Family Funeral Home of Bainbridge Island, told the Kitsap Sun his clients were curious about the subject. So he said it’s time funeral directors start thinking about it, too.

“This is the future,” he said. “It’s going to either make or break them.”

Cook now has woven caskets for clients to look at. He said he also is looking into the idea of a natural burial ground in the county.

Rill’s Life Tribute Center of Port Orchard is onboard with Cook already. It’s preparing a piece of ground at Sunset Lane Cemetery that could handle as many as 20 green burials, possibly for biodegradable caskets without liners. It should be ready in a year.

Its funeral director, Dave Rill, said, “I agree with Dave. We need to be open-minded.”

Currently, Western Washington has only one natural burial ground certified by the national nonprofit Green Burial Council, and there are only 15 in the nation. The Meadow near Ferndale, overseen by Moles Family Funeral Services of Bellingham, opened in March and contains one body.

The greening of the industry already has some funeral directors looking ahead and wondering.

Chris Henrickson, president of Lewis Funeral Chapel of Bremerton, said, “Everybody is kind of tippy-toeing into this. How much money do you want to expend on something that might not take off?”

Henrickson said his company’s two cemeteries in Bremerton and Poulsbo could be expanded to include green sections.

Local funeral homes say they have used biodegradable urns for the better part of a decade. Most say ones made for putting out on the water are popular in the county. Made of a cardboard-like material, they pause at the water’s surface, then sink and degrade.

“We can’t keep enough of these at the funeral home,” Cook said.

Why?

“I think it’s because we all live so close to the water, and I think it’s just very important to the residents of this area,” said Dave Rasmussen, funeral director at Tuell-McKee Funeral Home of Bremerton.

Information from: Kitsap Sun, http://www.kitsapsun.com/

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ABC’s of Estate Planning – Workshop!

Posted by sitlanilaw on June 15, 2009

Hello!

I wanted to let you know that I am hosting the ABC’s of Estate Planning workshop on Tuesday June 30th at the Mosaic Coffeehouse in Seattle (4401 Second Ave. NE Seattle, WA 98105) at 5pm.  This event is designed for financial proffessionals, small business owners and others who want to learn about estate planning in Washington State.

If interested, please RSVP via either Biznik or e-mail:

Biznik:  http://biznik.com/events/abcs-of-wills-trusts-and-estate-planning-for-financial-professionals-and-small-business-owners

E-mail:  drs@sitlanilaw.com

-David

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“Planning” Your “Legacy”

Posted by sitlanilaw on May 26, 2009

As an Attorney who works in the area of Estate Planning I am always curious as to how Estate, or Legacy Planning, is viewed by others.

Kevin M. Doherty, suggests that, “…If I have learned one thing in life, it is the value of planning and more specifically the toll, financially, physically and spiritually, that lack of planning can take on one’s life.” See link below for full article.

Mr. Doherty makes a great point – planning does not only provide you value in that it gives you piece of mind; as you have established a roadmap of how your affairs are to be handled in the event of your death or disability, but estate planning also helps to ensure that you and your family are spared the stress of not planning – or planning after the fact which is often more stressful…and more expensive!

Another benefit to planning is establishing a “Legacy” which is outlined in an article by Darrell J. Canby (see link below). This “Legacy” can include establishing a business succession plan for your descendants to providing for charities in your estate plan. Regardless of what you want your “Legacy” to be, you must be proactive and make an effort to ensure that your “Legacy” is know.

Of course, the best way to provide yourself with piece of mind, and to ensure that you have a “Legacy” is to plan your estate!

Have a great rest of the Week!

-David

Mr. Doherty’s article can be viewed in full at:
http://www.buffalonews.com/185/story/682159.html

Darrell J. Canby article can be viewed in full at:
http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/business/x12068512/How-do-you-want-to-be-remembered

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Estate Planning Event

Posted by sitlanilaw on May 18, 2009

Hello!  I wanted to let you know that I am going to be hosting, ABC’s of Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning for Financial Professionals and Others on Thursday May 28th at 5:30pm at Thinkspace in Redmond (address below).  At this event I will discuss issues such as the default Washington Estate Plan, the Death Tax and other related issues.  Please RSVP to me at drs@sitlanilaw.com or via Biznik (link below).

Thanks,

David

Event Link:

http://biznik.com/members/david-sitlani/events/abcs-of-wills-trusts-and-estate-planning-for-financial-professionals-and-others-3

Thinkspace:

8201 164th Ave NE
Redmond, Washington 98052

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