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Washington Estate Planning Questions & Answers
1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Washington on
Q: How long do I have to file a handwritten will after death for it to be valid

Found will 4 years after death

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Sep 24, 2019

Washington law provides: "Any person having the custody or control of any will shall, within thirty days after he or she shall have received knowledge of the death of the testator, deliver said will to the court having jurisdiction or to the person named in the will as executor, and any executor... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Elder Law and Probate for Washington on
Q: In WA, What do I file to take immediate control of father's estate?

My stepbrother moved into my father's house last year after being evicted. Claimed to be caregiver, but after my father had a couple hospital stays due to bed sores, etc, I sold my house and moved in to finished basement about a month prior to his death. While I was with my father at the hospital... Read more »

Brent Bowden
Brent Bowden answered on Aug 29, 2019

The typical way to gain control of his probate would be by initiating a probate, but, as you indicated, that requires a final death certificate.

The court can appoint a special administrator if there is something critical that must be addressed before a personal representative can be...
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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Elder Law and Probate for Washington on
Q: Can. POA take cars, tractors etc from my fathers home and keep for himself. I’m the sole beneficiary of the estate. 100k
Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Aug 23, 2019

No. An agent acting under a power of attorney can and must only take actions that are in the best interests of the principal. Self-dealing is strictly forbidden unless the POA specifically permits it. If you are encountering a rogue attorney in fact, you might need to hire an attorney to have a... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Contracts, Probate, Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for Washington on
Q: My Fathers wife promised me and my Father, that she'd give his kids half of the money from the sale of the house.

I cared for my Father for the past 14yrs until he passed. Spent 85% of my time with a my father making sure he took his meds and insulin and also took him to almost all his doctor appointments and surgeries. We pretty much did everything together. I have witnesses to her making these statements... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Aug 10, 2019

You might have grounds for suing your step mother for breach of contract. It sounds like there was an agreement and it was supported by consideration. The fact that there are witnesses to her promise is very helpful. Seek out a contract litigation attorney in your area.

1 Answer | Asked in Probate and Estate Planning for Washington on
Q: Father passed wks after remarrying in Washington with a Will. Does new widow get 50% of everything when nothing was her?

My father died just weeks after remarrying. The Will does not list his new wife. She brought nothing to the home. With a will, and with Washington being a community property state, does she automatically get 50% of everything? I know she should get something, but that doesn’t seem right for her... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Aug 10, 2019

Under the laws that apply when there is no will the spouse would inherit 100% of the community property, which is property acquired during the marriage. There was hardly time for that so I am guessing there is virtually none. When there are children the spouse inherits half of the separate property... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Washington on
Q: Needing a will.

I am trying to help a friend who is elderly. She wants to get her affairs in order and needs a will. Is this available as a free service?

John Kenney
John Kenney answered on Jun 24, 2019

Usually attorneys charge to prepare and execute a will and the other necessary documents such as a durable power of attorney, health care directive or living will and a health care power of attorney. Some attorneys may offer discounts or payment plans to assist a person who has lower income or... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Washington on
Q: my mom is giving my nephew my stepdads house and its not in her name can she do that?

my dads name was the only name the house was in and my mom had to get an attorney to get the house, only the finance company will not put it in her name until its paid off. what happens to it when she dies does it go to her children. because she is trying to give it to my nephew they went down and... Read more »

Brent Bowden
Brent Bowden answered on May 19, 2019

If your mom did not have a will, you would have a right to it before your nephew.

However, while your mom is alive, she can do more or less whatever she wants with her property. Likewise, she can leave it to whoever she wants in her will. At that point, you would have no right.

As...
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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Washington on
Q: When drafting a will and power of attorney, can we work with an attorney outside the county in which we reside?

My husband and I live in a relatively rural area and county with few estate attorneys. However, we are 30 miles away from our state capital (which is also in a different county) where there are more estate attorneys. Does it matter where an attorney's practice is located when filing our will at... Read more »

Greg Freeze
Greg Freeze answered on Mar 1, 2019

Wow. You question remained unanswered for a couple of months. This is now answered on your more recent post. The short answer remains, something like, if you want to leave your small town to go somewhere else, that will work. But, it will also work just fine with a local attorney. The choice... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Washington on
Q: When drafting a will and power of attorney, is it best to work with an attorney in our county of residence?

We live in a rural town and county. A recent search on your site identified 2 estate attorneys in our local area. Our state capital is 30 miles away (and in another county). A search in that city produced a significantly longer list of estate attorneys. When it comes to filing our will and... Read more »

Greg Freeze
Greg Freeze answered on Mar 1, 2019

Let's start with the "filing" part of your question. Your will gets filed with the court doing the probate. Washington is a little funny, as compared to say Oregon. In Oregon, you have to have some kind of connection with the county, such as living there, dying there, owning property there, etc.... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Washington on
Q: Can a trustee use funds from an irrevocable trust to create a new irrevocable trust for a different beneficiary?

I am the sole beneficiary of a 15 year old irrevocable trust and I believe the assets were recently moved into other brand new irrevocable trusts with new beneficiaries. (The grantor is the trustee) If the trustee has no other funds to reinstate my trust assets are the newly created... Read more »

Greg Freeze
Greg Freeze answered on Mar 1, 2019

Your magic Google phrase is "decanting irrevocable trusts." Your question dips into an area of law that, to me, is a bit controversial.

Despite the name "irrevocable" in the trust, there are circumstances where changes can be made. Generally, those changes required approval of not only...
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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Washington on
Q: Can I make a secret will that my husband will not know about until my death?
Brent Bowden
Brent Bowden answered on Nov 22, 2018

There is no requirement that your husband be aware of your will. But there are risks to a secret or surprise will. In the event you died and your husband survived you, he would be likely to open a probate assuming your old will or as if you didn't have one. If nobody brings the secret will to... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Washington on
Q: My mom passed away without a will. Her and my dad were married for 49 years. They lived in a house on land that she

inherited while they were married. He is not on the deed. There are 7 children. 4 from her previous marriage and 3 from her current marriage. My sister says the 4 from her previous marriage are entitled to 1/2 of the estate, but the 3 from her current marriage are not entitled to anything. What is... Read more »

Brent Bowden
Brent Bowden answered on Nov 1, 2018

When somebody passes away without a will, their heirs are determined by what are called the laws of intestacy. Washington's can be found at RCW 11.04.015 (http://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=11.04.015).

There will be a question about whether the home is separate or community...
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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Washington on
Q: How many witnesses do I need present when I sign my will?
Brent Bowden
Brent Bowden answered on Sep 12, 2018

Two. See RCW 11.12.020 http://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=11.12.020

Self-proving wills are easier to probate, but slightly more complicated to execute, as they require specific language and a notary. RCW 11.20.020(2). http://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=11.20.020

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Washington on
Q: My friend died in the State of Washington without a will. How must her estate be divided?

My friend (she) has no spouse, no living parents, two living sisters, and two living grandchildren. She also has one living child who is a ward of the State of Washington as the child is mentally disabled.

Brent Bowden
Brent Bowden answered on Aug 16, 2018

Every state has a set of laws that dictate how property is distributed if there is no will. Washington's can be found at RCW 11.04.015 ( http://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=11.04.015 ). The exact distribution would depend on who the parents of the surviving grandchildren were (i.e, are they... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Washington on
Q: My parents just willed me some land and mineral royalties in Louisiana. I want to leave 50% of the royalties to my wife.

My 3 sons will get the land and 50% of the royalties. Do I need a lawyer or can I make a will and have it notarized?

Brent Bowden
Brent Bowden answered on Jul 27, 2018

You can draft a will without a lawyer, but it is important to follow the formalities required by Washington Law (I am assuming you live in WA). Merely having it notarized is not sufficient to create a will in Washington State.

RCW 11.12.020 contains the requirements for witnesses....
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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Washington on
Q: Revocable Trust and can I ask for all account of monies.

Mother had no debt. House was sold when she went into Memory Care Facility. She had CD's, and savings account. It took sister 4 months to send letter from attorney regarding the trust. Monies to be divided equally among 3 siblings. It's been 10 months since death and no word on distributing... Read more »

Brent Bowden
Brent Bowden answered on May 1, 2018

If you got a letter from an attorney representing the trust or your sister as trustee, I would try reaching out to that lawyer to check on the status or hiring a lawyer to do it for you. There are any number of reasons it could be taking this long.

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law and Estate Planning for Washington on
Q: Who gets property after death.

My mom died 4years ago and her home was in her and her deceased husband's name. She had no will. She was remarried at the time of her death but the home was never in my step dads name. My stepdad recently passed away and has no kids so who does the house go to?

Brent Bowden
Brent Bowden answered on Apr 16, 2018

Under Washington intestacy laws (which govern in the absence of a will), your surviving spouse inherits all of your community property and half of your separate property if you have surviving children.

Your situation is somewhat complicated. The first question is who inherited her previous...
Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning, Family Law and Probate for Washington on
Q: My mother in-law wasnt informed about her father's death. Found out through Google. She was his only child. What to do?

He remarried when she was 3. No other children. The wife prevented contact and cut off contact with his daughter when he became ill with Alzheimer.

Brent Bowden
Brent Bowden answered on Mar 7, 2018

I would suggest that the first thing she do is try to figure out if her father's estate was probated and whether he had a will.

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for Washington on
Q: What does a reconveyance mean? A mortgage trustee recorded a reconveyance with us as grantees.
Brent Bowden
Brent Bowden answered on Mar 6, 2018

Did you recently pay off your mortgage or refinance? That is the document the bank files to release their lien on the property.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Washington on
Q: If there are two beneficiary's on a will, and one is also the executor, can said executor keep all the money?

My mother & I are two beneficiaries on my Grandparents Will, they passed, and the estate is ready to be closed, but she is saying since we were not allocated a set amount of money she can invest it all and keep it for herself. is this legal? can she make it so I get nothing since they didn't leave... Read more »

Brent Bowden
Brent Bowden answered on Mar 6, 2018

The executor has to follow the will. So it would depend on what the will said. It would be very strange for the will to not specify the share of the estate that each of you were to receive.

For example, wills commonly say something to the effect of: "to my children, but if my children do...
Read more »

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