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What Is Estate Planning?

Estate Planning and having an estate plan is something that everyone should have in place. It allows you to let others know your intentions regarding your medical decisions, assets and guardianship once you have passed away rather than allowing Washington State make those decisions for you. It can also help you avoid your loves ones from having to have your estate submitted to the state probate process and gives access to assets immediately rather than waiting several months until an estate is settled. Let Symmes Law Group carefully guide you through these critical decisions with a caring, collaborative hand and help you plan for your future and beyond.


A Will-Based plan is a foundation plan. It is a good option for young or single people with few assets. It provides peace of mind knowing that everything is covered and there are no gaps in your estate plan, including incapacity protection. The plan includes the basic documents everyone must have:

  • Last WIll & Testament
  • Living Will
  • Temporary Guardian Power of Attorney (if needed)
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Health Care Power of Attorney
  • HIPAA Authorization

The Trust-Based plan implements trusts into the estate plan. It is great way to preserve and protect your assets for decades to come. It allows you to dictate how and when your assets are to be distributed and protects those assets against future lawsuits, divorce settlements, and poor spending choices. It also removes our estate from probate. Documents will vary, but a Legacy Plan may include:

  • All Will-Based Plan Documents (except the will)
  • Revocable Living Trust
  • Pour-Over Will
  • Trust Funding Instructions
  • Deed Preparation
Advanced Tax Planning

The Advanced Tax Planning Plan is a Trust-Based plan that includes Estate Tax Strategies and Entity Creation. It may include Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts and other necessary strategies for high net worth clients with ongoing estate planning needs. These Plans are coupled with ongoing maintenance plan agreements, including Trust Funding customized to the individual client. The Advanced Tax Plans create the highest degree of family wealth preservation and protection. This Plan is usually only necessary for estates in excess of $10 million.

What is Probate?

A death in the family is one of the hardest times for loved ones. What makes it even more difficult is when families have to deal with paperwork and legal issues for the deceased and don’t know where to start.

Probate is the process of appointing a personal representative (if the decedent had a will) or administrator (if the decedent had no will) to notify creditors, pay debts, transfer and liquidate assets of the probate estate, and it allows a forum for family members, beneficiaries or creditors to contest a will or the division or liquidation of assets.

How Can A Seattle Probate Lawyer Help?

If the deceased individual planned ahead and had an estate plan prepared, the task of administering their estate can be relatively straight forward in Washington State. However, sometimes those left in charge of distributing assets to beneficiaries and closing accounts are not comfortable with their responsibility, may not be qualified to be a personal representative or the beneficiaries may disagree as to who should be named the personal representative. Other times, individuals may not have created a will, have an outdated will, and the estate administration becomes more complicated.

In general when somebody passes away and they have a will, the will must be filed within the Washington superior court in the county the person resided in within 40 days of death. The Personal Representative may be required to open a probate case if the person owned real estate or the person had assets totaling more than $100,000. Otherwise a small estate affidavit may be all that needs to be completed to avoid probate and start taking control of assets and bank accounts.

Symmes Law Group is experienced in helping clients with the administration of a decedent’s estate and getting a personal representative or administrator appointed to a probate case in order to start the probate process. Furthermore Symmes Law Group can help the personal representative or administrator sell real estate, transfer assets to beneficiaries, and navigate probate court as needed.

If you have any questions about what needs to be done after a death in your family, you can call at (206) 682-7975 to schedule your free initial consultation to learn more.

  • Richard Symmes

    Hi, Richard here.

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