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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Posts Tagged ‘washington estate planning’

Redmond Estate Planning Workshop Wednesday February 10th!

Posted by sitlanilaw on February 8, 2010

Estate Planning Workshop for Business Owners, Financial Professionals and Others.

Join attorney David Ravi Sitlani for an informative workshop covering estate planning in Washington State.

In many cases, an entrepreneur’s business is their primary asset. Because of this fact estate planning is critical in ensuring that a business owner and their family are adequately protected by having the right documents in place.

Even if you are not an entrepreneur or solopreneur, having a current estate plan is still critically important because it allows you to name guardians for your kids and take other steps to protect your family and give yourself peace-of-mind.

Though you may currently have a will, trust, or power-of-attorney, it is important for you to understand your estate planning documents to ensure that they still reflect your wishes and are current with Washington law.

This workshop will begin with an introduction to the basics of Estate Planning including the importance of a Power-Of-Attorney, the difference between a Will and a Trust, and the “default” estate plan….or not planning at all.

We will then discuss more complex issues including:
-The Federal & Washington State Death Tax.
-Planning Beyond the Basics for the Business Owner.

This workshop is intended to be free-flowing and interactive so please come with plenty of questions!

February 10, 2010, 5-7pm at Thinkspace in Redmond, 8201 164th Ave NE
Redmond, Washington 98052.

RSVP either via the Biznik link below or directly with David at



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It is 2010…and there is still no Estate Tax…?

Posted by sitlanilaw on January 18, 2010

Congress still has not decided what to do with the estate tax.  Since January 1st, 2010 there has been no federal estate tax.  Because of this fact if one dies during this year their estate would not be subject to the federal estate tax but could be subject to an applicable state estate tax.

Unfortunately this fact did not help some individuals who passed away towards the end of 2009 with taxable estates.  The article below is likely just one example of how Congressional inaction regarding the Estate Tax had a impact on a real couple.


If Fritz Lohman had only known, he would have waited another 13 hours to kick the bucket.

Lohman, 87, a SoHo real-estate magnate who pioneered the exhibition of gay art, died at home at about 11 a.m. on New Year’s Eve after a long illness.

If he had instead passed away after midnight Jan.1, his partner of 48 years could have avoided paying at least $3 million in estate taxes — thanks to Congress letting that levy lapse for 2010.

“He would probably say, ‘Why didn’t they tell me? I could have waited another day,’ ” said Charles Leslie, 76, Lohman’s business and life partner — and the sole beneficiary to his $10 million estate.

“It’s so utterly ludicrous,” Leslie said. “You think you’ve done everything right, taken every precaution, and then by some congressional fiat your life turns upside down.”

“What a difference a day makes — literally,” added Leslie’s estate lawyer, Erica Bell.

Bell and others are shocked that Congress failed by the end of 2009 to extend the “death tax” in 2010 for the richest Americans. The rate is 45 percent of assets beyond the first $3.5 million.

Under current law, the estate tax is gone for one year, but will be reinstated — and raised — in 2011 for beneficiaries of more than $1 million.

“That means, if you have a choice and someone is probably going to die soon, it would be better this year than next,” Bell said. “The joke is, ‘Throw momma from the train.’ ”

She added, “This is not good public policy. There’s something really wrong with a tax law that suggests when it’s good to die.”

But that dilemma tormented another New York family whose wealthy mother was terminally ill in December.

“The family could have put her on aggressive, artificial life support, with tubes and medical devices, until January 1, thereby saving $3 million in federal estate taxes,” a source said. “The family chose the kinder path — letting her die naturally and peacefully.” She didn’t make it to New Year’s Day.

Leslie said his tax bills may force him to sell some of the SoHo commercial properties he and Lohman bought years ago, investments that made them a fortune. The debonair Lohman also ran a high-end interior decorating business.

The couple is best-known for the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation they founded in 1990 and today runs a Wooster Street gallery featuring erotic works by Andy Warhol, Robert Maplethorpe and others.

The bon vivants traveled the world, but Lohman became too sick about seven years ago with diabetes, lung ailments, and arthritis. For the last two years, he was confined to his bed at the couple’s country home in Maryland, where full-time nursing aides cared for him. Leslie spent weekends with him.

Leslie is stoic about the irony of the timing of Lohman’s death.

“You can’t second guess things like that. We do not happen to life — life happens to us.”

Read more:

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Another Interesting Article on the Federal Estate Tax

Posted by sitlanilaw on November 16, 2009

While Congress has yet to decide what changes to make, if any, to the Federal Estate Tax commentators from around the country have made their opinions known.  This article discussed some proposals in Congress from both parties and also has a brief discussion on various State Estate taxes:


While we still do not know what Congress is going to do with the Estate Tax there seems to be some inkling that they will do something before the end of the year.  If they fail to act then there will be no Federal estate tax in 2010!

If/when Congress does act I will make sure to post something here.


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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Insight into Estate Planning – The No Contest Clause

Posted by sitlanilaw on November 9, 2009

When I meet with clients to develop an Estate Plan that meets their distinct needs we discuss many issues that are particular to their goals and concerns.  One issue that could arise is what to do if a client wants to include a provisions that disallows a challenge to a Will or Trust.  These are referred to as “in terrorem” clauses, or No Contest Clauses.

The New York Times article below offers an interesting description of these clauses and how they have been used by prominent individuals such as Michael Jackson and Brooke Astor:

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 State Estate/Death Taxes

Posted by sitlanilaw on October 31, 2009

Recently it seems that the Wall Street Journal has had a number of articles about the Federal Estate Tax.  Today they posted another article, this time discussing various State Estate Taxes – including our own in Washington State.  You can link to this article, “State Death Taxes Are the Latest Worry”, below:



Have a great weekend!


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The ABC’s of Estate Planning: The Medical Directive/Living Will

Posted by sitlanilaw on October 28, 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 Living Will/Medical Directive and what it does in the context of Estate Planning.  The previous entry addressed how the Power of Attorney is an integral part of your Estate Plan and in the coming days I will discuss various other aspects of an Estate Plan including Wills, Trusts, and Estate Planning & the Death Tax.

The Living Will or Medical Directive.

When I discuss Medical Directives/Living Wills with clients or at my workshops I often start the conversation by discussing the case of Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman whose family could not agree as to what should be done regarding her medical care, in particular what life sustaining measures should be undertaken by her medical team.

In this context I then explain the importance of the Living Will and Medical Directive as follows:  Once you complete your Living Will/Medical Directive you have made it clear as to what your decisions are regarding what (if any) medical procedures and/or life sustaining measures you want undertaken in the event that you are unable to make these decisions for yourself.

Thus, the Living Will/Medical Directive is a document that instructs your family, healthcare providers and others about your care should you be unable to make decisions on your own, and it is important to note that the Living Will/Medical Directive only becomes effective under circumstances that you outline in the document.

When I meet with clients I try to explain that the decisions they make in their Living Will/Medical Directive are not to be taken lightly and I recommend that they consider their moral, ethical and religious views when selecting the medical directives they wish to have followed and to discuss these decisions with their family.

Together with a Power of Attorney, the Living Will/Medical Directive is a crucial component to your estate plan.

If interested in this topic you can read more at:



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 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!


Your Go-To Guide to Estate Planning:

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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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