When many Washington residents plan their estates, they are focused on preserving wealth so that their heirs will have a good start in life. Certainly, that's a good goal. However, estate planning isn't just about money. In fact, surveys show that the estate assets people care about the most are those with mostly sentimental value.
When elderly people develop dementia or other problems that make it hard for them to make legal decisions for themselves, Washington law provides for a relative or another person to serve as guardian for the elderly person. However, this power is often strictly limited. A developing story from another state helps illustrate why these limits may be necessary.
To write a will is to consider very private matters such as personal finances, family relationships, one's hopes for the future and, of course, one's own mortality. However, once a will goes to probate court, under Washington law, it typically becomes public information. This public airing of private information can make many people uncomfortable.
Washington families who have a disabled child often have a special difficulty when planning their estates. Most parents want to preserve some assets for the next generation, but providing money for disabled adult children can interfere with the government benefits that go to disabled people.