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

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    1001 Fourth Avenue
    Suite 3200
    Seattle, WA 98154

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    8201 164th Avenue NE
    Suite 200
    Redmond, WA 98052

    Phone: (206) 267-8777
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Posts Tagged ‘wills’

Estate Planning Workshop – Seattle February 3rd & Redmond February 10th.

Posted by sitlanilaw on January 19, 2010


I wanted to let you know that I am presenting an Estate Planning workshop on two different dates in February. First on Wednesday February 3rd from 5-7pm at the Mosaic Coffeehouse in Seattle, and second, on Wednesday February 10th from 5-7pm at Thinkspace in Redmond.

The goal of this workshop is to provide information about Estate Planning in Washington State. Please see information below for details.

If you plan to come, feel free to RSVP on either the event link on or via e-mail to

If this event would be of interest to friends, colleagues or clients, please feel free to pass this message along!


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 3, 2010, 5-7pm at the Mosaic Coffeehouse, 4401 2nd Ave NE
Seattle, Washington 98105

February 10, 2010, 5-7pm at Thinkspace in Redmond, 8201 164th Ave NE
Redmond, Washington 98052.–0


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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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The Death of the Estate Tax in 2010?

Posted by sitlanilaw on October 23, 2009

Below is a link for an interesting article explaining what will happen if Congress does not address the Estate Tax.  In summary the federal estate tax credit is currently $3.5 million per individual and thus $7 million for a married couple.  However, this credit, along with the federal estate tax, expires at the end of 2009.  But along with the estate tax something else goes away – the step-up in basis of assets!  This means that while no federal estate taxes would be due upon the death of an individual, an heir to an estate may owe taxes when they sell assets they received as part of their inheritance. Take a look at this article if interested in learning more…


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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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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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:

Wikipedia Entry on Green Burial:

Green Burials in Washington State:



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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.


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.


“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,

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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!


Mr. Doherty’s article can be viewed in full at:

Darrell J. Canby article can be viewed in full at:

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