Spokane Will Lawyers
Every adult needs an estate plan, and every estate plan needs a will. Even if you direct most or all of your assets through a revocable living trust (something we recommend for most clients), your estate plan still needs a will to accomplish several important purposes. The estate planning attorneys at Moulton Law Offices can explore all your options and help you craft a comprehensive estate plan that protects your property during your lifetime and allows you to direct its management or distribution after you are gone. See below to learn how a last will and testament is an essential component of your estate plan, and contact our experienced Spokane will lawyers to get started customizing an estate plan that meets your specific needs and goals.
What Can a Will Do?
A will can accomplish many worthy goals in your estate plan. Some of the main reasons to include a will in your estate plan include the following:
- Name the person you wish to be the executor (personal representative) of your estate. This is an important job with many tasks involved, and you want to select someone you trust to know and carry out your wishes with guidance and support from a probate lawyer and other professionals as needed.
- Name a guardian for any minor children who might be left without someone to care for them after your passing. Unless you make provisions for your kids, state laws and state agencies will dictate where they go and what happens to them, which might not be the same decisions you would make for them.
- Make specific gifts to specific persons. Your estate is more than just money and property. It includes many items of value not just for their material worth but for personal and sentimental reasons as well. The will is your opportunity to leave a legacy to future generations, ensure items of value to you are respected, and show the people in your life how much they mean to you.
- Ensure all of your property is accounted for. While we do recommend handing down your estate through a revocable living trust rather than a will to avoid probate, the trust can only deal with assets that have been placed in the trust. Your will can contain a “pour-over” provision to ensure any property left out of the trust is transferred to the trust.
- Create a testamentary trust. Also called a will trust, a testamentary trust is created by a provision in your will and goes into effect after your passing. These types of trusts can be helpful to hold assets for minors or youthful beneficiaries until they are mature enough to handle their inheritance, among other reasons.
Requirements for a Valid Will in Washington
A will must meet many requirements to be valid and effective under Washington law. The maker of the will, known as the testator, must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. The will must be in writing and signed by the testator or another person at the testator’s direction in the testator’s presence or electronic presence. The will must also be attested by two or more competent witnesses who sign the will or an affidavit in the presence or electronic presence of the testator and at the testator’s direction or request. These witnesses could be called into court to testify as to the validity of the will in probate, although if the signing of the will was notarized, it is considered “self-proving” without requiring any additional steps unless the will is contested for some reason.
Probate courts in Washington also recognize valid wills that were created in other states, even if the will requirements in those states differ from Washington’s.
Although wills must generally be in writing to be valid, Washington does recognize oral wills, officially called nuncupative wills, in certain circumstances. A member of the U.S. armed forces or a person employed on a merchant marine vessel can use an oral will to dispose of their wages or personal property. Nuncupative wills are subject to different witness requirements than oral wills and are only valid if made at the time of the testator’s last sickness and offered into probate within six months of their making.
Importance of Professional Help in Making a Will
Wills may seem fairly simple, and some nonlawyers offer will-making services. There are even forms one can buy off the shelf or download from the internet. But a will that isn’t professionally prepared by an experienced estate planning lawyer is more likely to contain mistakes that could render the entire will invalid. The more involved the will is, the more important it is to have it professionally prepared. Choosing an estate planning law firm to draft your will ensures that it is fully integrated into your comprehensive estate plan and is updated as needed to keep pace with changes in the law, your wishes or your family dynamic. The will itself is an affordable component of your estate plan, and it’s not worth it to try to do it on your own without guidance from an attorney.
Contact Moulton Law Offices for Help With Wills in Spokane
Contact the Washington estate planning attorneys at Moulton Law Offices, P.S., for professional guidance and skilled technical assistance in drafting a will that meets your needs and fits in with your overall estate plan. Call our experienced Spokane will lawyers today to get started.