March 15, 2017 | lmsXpect3 Estate planning is a process involving advisors who are familiar with your goals and concerns, your assets and how they are owned, and your family structure. Estate planning covers the transfer of property at death as well as a variety of other personal matters. Further, estate planning can be used to minimize the costs and uncertainty of probate and to maximize the value of your estate through tax reduction. Where Do I Start? The first step in a good estate plan is a clear definition of your objectives. For example, consider whether your wealth is enough to cover your family needs. If not, you might consider life insurance. To calculate your needs, add the amount needed to pay your debts, fund your family’s savings goals, and your family’s living needs. Life insurance may be the right choice to ensure your family is taken care of upon your death. Second, find a qualified attorney to help you write a will and/or a living trust. It is important to find an attorney that’s been practicing for awhile and knows the different laws and regulations that govern your area. Common Wills And/Or Living Trust Questions Do I need a will or a revocable living trust? Everyone needs a will but only some need a revocable living trust. A trust can be used to avoid probate (legal process that inventories and distributes a person’s property after death) when the estate is complex. Many people aim to avoid probate because it is time-consuming and expensive. Thus, a trust is more beneficial for wealthier individuals with more complex (and larger) estates. How do revocable living trusts work? Trusts allow you to transfer property (real estate, keepsakes, bank accounts, etc.) into the trust, which is controlled by the trustee. Upon your death, the trustee has the power to distribute the property to inheritors without any probate court involvement. “Revocable” trusts are named as such because the trustor can change or revoke the trust anytime before death. Will vs. Trust A will can do things a trust cannot. Trustees only handle property that you have transferred to the trust. The trust does not include property you have not transferred or are not able to transfer. A simple will is necessary for your remaining property. Further, wills allow you to appoint custody of your children and to forgive any debts owed to you. A trust cannot do either. However, a trust can avoid probate, save money, and provide privacy regarding your estate after death. A will cannot. We Are Here To Help When deciding how to plan your estate, it’s important to contact an experienced Renton estate-planning attorney at the office of Dan Kellogg to ensure that your estate is planned in accordance with your wishes and the requirements of the state of Washington, and aided by every tax exemption available to you. Call (425) 227-8700 or contact us online today to learn how we can help you.