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Crafting solid wills for King County residents

If King County follows the trend of a recent survey, more than half of area residents may be going through life without having prepared a will. An alarming 92 percent of adults under age 35 reported not having a will. The survey suggests that many people believe their estate assets will naturally pass to their children or other family members, but that isn't necessarily true.

In reality, probate laws unique to each state can have unexpected impacts on how estate assets get distributed to heirs. Not having a will can cause extra emotional strain for loved ones as they try to navigate the probate court process. It is recommended to develop a simple and effective estate plan early in life to ensure the well being of your family.

In addition to a will, a basic estate plan may include tools like health care directives and powers of attorney. These measures can help loved ones through a difficult time by providing them with the legal authority to manage finances and make medical decisions.

Washingtonians with larger estates should consider a comprehensive estate plan that may incorporate tools like trusts designed to minimize estate tax consequences. For these more complex matters, it is usually recommended to seek the help of a professional who is familiar with the relevant state laws. Having this kind of assistance can help individuals take advantage of specific opportunities that are available to larger estates.

Even as generic wills and online legal forms become increasingly popular, it is always wise to ensure that such forms meet the legal requirements for valid estate planning instruments under state laws. Moreover, not all of those forms are appropriate if an estate grows to a certain size. And since state and federal estate tax exemptions often change, changes in probate laws can sometimes offer new benefits that were not previously available.

Source: chicagotribune.com, "What Type of Estate and Tax Planning Do I Need to Do?: Without a will, your assets could be held in probate court and distributed according to state law," Susan Johnston, Feb. 28, 2012

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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.

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