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About probate in Washington

In previous blog posts, we have covered what happens when a loved one wants to challenge an estate, and some of the reasons that they may have for contesting a will or trust. In this post, we want to provide you with an overview of the probate process, so that you understand how it works, and what it might mean for your case.

What is subject to probate?

Property disputes: where to draw the line

Buying or renting a home in Seattle can come with countless advantages: fresh Pacific Northwest air, lively city life and the excitement of settling into a new pad. Unfortunately, it can also come with difficult neighbors. One topic that causes dispute is determining property boundaries. Many neighbors experience stress and even potential danger in property disputes, but there are various regulations that help protect citizens from escalating neighbor disagreements.

The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections defines property line disputes as disagreements between neighbors about the location of their property line and whether structures have been built on or over that line. Law enforcement handles such disputes through face-to-face contact, but the SDCI enforces a Land Use Code that contains rules about the space required between structures and the property line. The rules are as follows:

  • Limit fence height to to 6 feet in most cases; homeowners can build fences anywhere on their property
  • Do not build in side yard setbacks
  • Obtain permits for most structures (i.e. decks higher than 18 inches) 

Avoid family disputes with estate planning

When a family member dies, dealing with the pain of their loss can be overwhelming. Adding all of the tasks associated with tying up all of the loose ends and administering an estate can be a real burden. Having a plan in place is essential to help prevent family disputes over inheritance, but estate planning can also keep the peace in other situations as well.

As Lifehacker explains, planning for one's own death is essential, even if it feels morbid. Regardless of one's age or financial position, having a last will and testament is just one way to take care of the family after death. This document will not only handle what should happen with assets, but it names who will become the guardian of any children and who should be in charge of carrying out the final wishes as executor. While working with a lawyer to create a will isn't a requirement, it does ensure that things are properly carried out, and a lawyer can help with designating a power of attorney and creating a living will. These documents are where medical wishes can be laid out and a person can become the designated decision maker in the event of an illness rendering one incapacitated.

Dispute over outdoor lights prompts new city ordinance

Neighbor disputes in Seattle often arise over tangible elements such as landscape features and property lines. Yet plenty of intangible intrusions can also occur between two properties, like excess noise or light. The trouble is that what some may view as a nuisance, others may view to be no big deal. Thus, each side in such a dispute often sticks to their proverbial guns, with both believing their own respective point of views to be right. Often, it takes the intervention of city officials to resolve such matters.

That is exactly what is happening in an Illinois community. The village’s Board of Trustee’s is debating the merits of new ordinance that would determine how much light is too much to cast onto a neighbor’s property. This new proposal stems from a disagreement between two neighbors. The city already has similar regulations in place for commercial properties. However, while local officials recognize the need to create a standard to avoid potential future disputes from occurring, they also agree that such an ordinance will take time to refine and implement. For example, the new measure would impose limitations of 0.1 footcandles of light at a height of 36 inches once one is notified that the glow is excessive. Officials recognize that specialized measuring equipment will be needed to monitor light output, and a grace period would need to be set to allow homeowners time to make their lighting complaint. As a side note, the neighbors that prompted this resolution agreed to resolve the matter amicably.

Understanding trust basics

Many Washington residents may be hesitant to think about their estate planning in part because it may force them to come face-to-face with the concept of death. However, Forbes suggests that estate planning can actually have less to do with death than it can have with giving people control over their assets and estates.

There are different types of trusts and the terminology used to describe them can sometimes be confusing to people. Understanding these can be important before diving into the process of developing a trust. One of the first things that needs to be decided is whether to determine or not a living trust or a testamentary trust would be needed. A living trust is also referred to as an inter vivos trust.

Initiating a will contest

Estate issues can be a touchy subject, especially amongst those who may be set to inherit assets. People in Seattle are encouraged to handle their estate planning early on in life, and to keep those who may be party to their estates informed of what to expect. Doing so may help reduce the potential of a dispute arising amongst beneficiaries after one has passed on. Yet no amount of planning can ultimately eliminate the potential of a will contest to occur.

It may be easy for many to dismiss such action as a petty attempt to by one who has been disinherited to get what he or she feels entitled to. Yet there are legitimate times where the circumstances surrounding the creation of a will (or the unexplained amendment of one that has already been establish) should warrant further investigation. Those looking to challenge the validity of a will assume the burden of proof in pinpointing its deficiencies. According to the American Association of Retired Persons, there are four standard points that are often used to contest a will. These are:

  •          Fraud
  •          Undue influence
  •          Lack of capacity
  •          Improper execution

Three reasons for loved ones to challenge a will

The loss of a loved one, even if it was expected, still can be a very emotional time for family members. There is a lot that needs to be done while dealing with the grief that they may be experiencing after this event. This includes ensuring that a loved one’s final wishes are taken care of during the administering of the estate.

While most estates are carried out without any major problems, in some circumstances there may be issues that result in a will being challenged by one or more of the beneficiaries or family members. In this post, we discuss three common reasons that may lead to the challenging of a will.

Undue influence and the impact on estate plans

After the loss of a loved one, there will come a time when that person’s estate plan will be administered. The beneficiaries of the will or trust will begin to receive the property that they are entitled to receive under the plan documents.

In most circumstances, the administration of the estate will be a fairly straightforward process. However, there are some cases where things don’t seem to make sense, and it might be necessary to contest the will of your loved one. In this post, we will discuss the concept of undue influence, and the impact that it might have on both estate plans and the administration of your loved one’s estate.

Working through an inheritance dispute

Inheritance disputes arise for all sorts of reasons and each case may present unique challenges. In Seattle, and all over the rest of the state, these disagreements can become very serious and, in some cases, may even tear an entire family apart. At Riach Gese Jacobs PLLC, we can understand the emotional and financial difficulties that family members and other beneficiaries may experience when these challenges arise.

Whether you believe that your relative was a victim of undue influence or you do not think that you have received the assets that you were entitled to, it is essential for you to relentlessly stand up for your rights. Moreover, these situations are time sensitive, so you should not wait too long to take action if you believe that inheritance was not handled appropriately. In some cases, families are able to work these disagreements out by speaking with one another. However, there are also times when taking these disputes to the courtroom is necessary.

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Riach Gese Jacobs, PLLC
7331 196th Street, SW
P.O. Box 1067
Lynnwood, WA 98046

Phone: 425-329-7857
Phone: 425-776-3191
Fax: 425-775-0406
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