Schedule A Consultation Today 425-336-2908

Helping You Plan Your Future And Solve Your Problems

View Our Practice Areas

Washington Estate Planning, Probate & Tax Legal Blog

Protect your disabled child with a special needs trust

When you work on your Washington estate plan, you probably do so with the intent of leaving as much of your wealth behind for your child as you possibly can. If your child has special needs, however, you may need to make additional accommodations for him or her in your absence. At Gellner Law Group, we understand that estate planning for a special needs child involves additional considerations, and we have helped many people facing similar circumstances pursue estate planning solutions that meet their needs.

According to CNBC, providing a lifetime of care for your disabled or special needs child can cost you millions, but if you leave your child too much of your wealth in a traditional will, it can lead to additional hardship. How? Odds are, your special needs child is currently utilizing one or more types of government assistance, such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income, to get by. The potential problem, however, is that such benefits undergo distribution based on need, and if your child has too much money available to him or her, it may make him or her ineligible to continue to receive these benefits.

Addressing your transfer on death accounts

You may not know that starting your estate planning could begin with just a few steps. In particular, if you have bank accounts, savings accounts or other similar accounts, you could easily name beneficiaries to those accounts and begin getting your end-of-life affairs in order more quickly than you ever imagined.

The reason that getting started with these accounts is an easy way to address certain parts of your estate is that, commonly, they are transfer on death accounts. As a result, if you name beneficiaries to these accounts and keep them updated, they will be ready to pass on to those beneficiaries after your passing.

Do you qualify for relief from tax penalties?

Anyone can fall on hard times. Moreover, with recent changes to tax regulations, those hard times may have been made harder by a more significant tax debt than someone expected. However, the IRS does provide relief for people in tough situations if they can prove they had good reason to fall short on their tax obligations.

This type of relief from penalties is called a "reasonable cause penalty abatement." It applies in situations where someone tried to comply with IRS requirements but failed due to circumstances beyond their control.

How to choose an estate administrator

When planning your estate, there are a myriad of factors to consider. One of the most important may be who you choose to handle your estate once you have passed. The estate administrator, sometimes referred to as the executor of the estate, is responsible for ensuring all matters involving the estate are handled properly. It may be daunting at times for estate administrators to juggle all of the duties given to them, and so it is critical that you select someone who is up for the task. If, however, the administrator you choose does not want to take on the position, he or she may decline and the court will appoint one to take over the duties. 

It is helpful if the estate administrator is organized, detail-oriented, punctual and has the time needed to devote to certain activities. Executors are responsible for gathering all of the property and assets included in the estate and then having them evaluated to find the estate's value. Any expenses still owed by the estate, such as income taxes, property taxes or other debts, are paid out of the estate's value. The administrator also protects the estate from theft and vandalism during probate. Once the probate process has taken place, the remaining property and assets are distributed to the beneficiaries named in your last will and testament. The right estate administrator can help to ensure your estate is taken care of after you have passed. 

Is it hard to write a will?

The term "estate planning" is all-inclusive and defines the process whereby you plan for your future. Throughout your efforts to establish an estate plan for yourself in Washington, you may write a will, make critical designations of your assets, identify people you trust to make important end-of-life decisions on behalf of you should you become incapacitated, and even make preparations for the care of dependents in the event of your death. 

Writing a will, in particular, will require you to think extensively about your desires for the people and things you care most about. What do you want to happen to them after you die? Making these determinations now is a way to guarantee that the things that mean the most to you will not be turned over to the state when you pass away. While writing a will may seem daunting at first, it should not take you a lot of time, especially if you have some help doing it. 

Your options for paying tax debt

Residents in Washington State may not have to pay state income taxes but that does not mean that people are always able to pay the full amount of federal income taxes they owe. When faced with a high tax bill from the Internal Revenue Service, consumers might wonder what options they have if they are unable to pay the amount due by the required payment deadline. 

Some consumers might think that using a credit card to pay income taxes can help them. However, as Consumer Reports notes, this may actually make matters worse for their general debt situation. This is because the interest rate charged by a bank for a credit card account might be higher than any interest charged by the IRS if a payment plan is set up with them. The Internal Revenue Service offers a few different options for people to pay outstanding tax bills and the current interest rate is 5%.

How long will probate last?

After the death of a loved one, you have many things to deal with. You want to reach out to console family members, but you are dealing with your own grief as well. There are practical preparations, such as funeral plans, and you may have to deal with the doctors or others who assisted your loved one in the final moments of his or her life. Then, you can turn your attention to your loved one's estate.

If your family member had a simple will or left no plan at all, you can expect the estate to go through probate. This legal process involves verifying the ownership of the estate, the identity of the heirs and the claims of creditors. It is often a simple matter, but probate has a reputation for dragging on for months. If you are waiting for your inheritance, understanding what slows down probate may be valuable.

Should I write my own will?

Many people attempt to save money on estate planning costs by writing their own wills. While there are many DIY will creation services available, writing your own will can be problematic in many ways. The Balance explains a few of the pitfalls of creating your own will without an attorney's assistance. 

Keep in mind that state laws governing will creation vary quite a bit and it can be difficult to comprehend the full range of laws. This includes laws governing estate taxes, disinheriting spouses, community property, and many other situations. If your estate plan fails to meet the laws in your state, your will could be subject to probate. This is a costly and time-consuming process that entails proving your will is authentic, paying creditors, and finally, dispersing assets to heirs. 

What do you need to know about wage garnishment?

If you owe federal or Washington state taxes, you should take your debt seriously and try to make arrangements to repay it. If you do not, the tax agency involved could have your wages garnished. According to FindLaw, wage garnishment occurs when a court or government agency requires your employer to withhold a portion of your earnings in order to satisfy a debt. Garnishment of your wages can take place to satisfy other obligations than tax debts, such as alimony, child support and debts owed to the federal government but not related to taxes. 

Wage garnishment can be a frustrating situation, but you should know that there are limits in place on the amount of money that can be withheld from your paycheck. The amount of wage garnishment that can occur is often expressed as a percentage of your disposable earnings, i.e., the money that remains after your employer makes deductions for Social Security, taxes and any other deductions required by law. The percentage of your disposable earnings subject to withholding depends on the reason for the garnishment. 

Make Your Consultation Appointment

To speak with an attorney at Gellner Law Group about estate planning, probate, trusts, wills or tax controversy, contact our law office in Kent, Washington, today. You can call 425-336-2908 or send us an email. We provide representation across the entire Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Email Us

Kent Office
8407 S. 259th Street
Suite 203
Kent, WA 98030

Phone: 425-336-2908
Fax: 253-852-0400
Kent Law Office Map

Kent Office

Spokane Office
505 W. Riverside Avenue
Suite 500
Spokane, WA 99201

Phone: 425-336-2908
Fax: 509-769-0202
Map & Directions

Spokane Office