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Invalidating a will

It is recommended that those working their way through the estate planning process in Seattle involve those who will be impacted by their decisions as much as possible. Yet that does not always happen, which is why many who are party to an estate may ultimately be surprised to learn of their interests in it (or lack thereof). It may be easy to assume that those who contest the terms of a will are simply being bitter at not receiving what they wanted. Yet there may indeed be circumstances where one might justifiably question their stake in an inheritance

People may often promise to pass on certain assets to others, or there may be times when one is able to influence a person near death to increase their stake in that person's estate. If there is evidence to prove that a will (or certain portions of it) should be invalidated, then people are free to do so. Yet according to Section 11.24.010 of the Revised Code of Washington, a will contest must be initiated within four months of the will being submitted to probate (the same is true if one wants to validate a will that has been rejected from probate). Once a petition has been submitted, the petitioner then has 90 days to provide the personal representative of the estate with notice of their intentions. 

Removing an executor from their role

When you are party to an estate in Seattle, it may be easy to feel as though you have little control over your interests. At first glance, it may appear that you indeed do not given that it is the estate executor who handles its administration. Yet your interests must be managed exactly in the manner that the settlor specified in their will. This means that the executor essentially works for you and the estate's other beneficiaries. Many in your same position have come to us here at Riach Gese Jacobs PLLC in the past worried that the estates controlling their interests were being poorly managed. If you share the same concern, you may be happy to learn that you may be able to have an executor removed from their role. 

Section 11.68.070 of the Revised Code of Washington states that any party interested in an estate can petition that the court review and evaluate the actions of the estate's executor. "Interested parties" in this context can be any of the following: 

  • Creditors
  • Heirs
  • Devisees
  • Legatees
  • Any person representing any of the aforementioned parties

Neighbor dispute heard by Court of Appeals

People who live in Washington State and who experience challenges with their neighbors often wonder what type of recourse they may have or how they can protect themselves. In an ideal world, neighbors would be able to cooperate and resolve their differences amicably and in person. Unfortunately, that does not always happen and legal action is taken. The reasons that lead to this can vary dramatically.

In the central part of the state, a conflict between two neighbors in Selah in Yakima County has recently been reviewed by a Court of Appeals. The dispute goes back several years according to the Yakima Herald. It involves a woman who gives music lessons to students out of her home and her neighbor. Seven years ago, the woman's husband was forced to retire early due to poor health. At that time, she chose to increase the number of lessons she provided to earn additional income for her family.

Planning to avoid estate taxes

One of the concerns weighing on those tasked with administering the estates of their family members or friends is the issue of taxes. Often it is assumed that an estate will automatically owe tax, yet that is not always the case. Indeed, according to information shared by the Internal Revenue Service, only 33,000 estate tax returns are projected to be filed in 2019. Given that the United Nations World Population Prospects reports shows that over 7,400 Americans die every day, one can see just how few estates actually have to deal with the estate tax. 

This is because the federal government has set a threshold determining which estates will actually be taxed. Per Forbes Magazine, the threshold for 2019 is $11.4 million. Any estate whose total taxable value is less than that amount will not be taxed. Thus, many may plan to pass on assets to heirs without their personal representatives having to deal with such encumbrances. 

Why did you get disinherited?

When your last living parent passes away and your family goes over the estate plan, you feel shocked to find out that you got nothing at all. Your siblings did. So did extended family members, like your nieces, nephews and cousins. But you got completely disinherited and cut out of the will.

Some people know this is coming before it happens. Many others, like you, find themselves shocked and surprised. The first question you may ask is how this could have happened? A few common reasons include:

  • You have more money and assets than everyone else in your family. Your parent did not leave you anything simply because they knew that you, unlike the rest of your family, did not need anything. They wanted to help people as much as possible with the assets that they had.
  • You and your parent became estranged over the years. You stopped speaking and writing. You never got together for family events. Maybe one single event triggered this, like an argument about your lifestyle. Maybe it just happened slowly as your lives drifted apart.
  • Your parent meant to update the estate plan and never got a chance to do so. They passed away before they got around to it. This is an issue, for example, with parents and children who have a falling out and then reconcile. If the parent cut you out of the will after the falling out and forgot to add you back in, you still get nothing.
  • Someone else used their influence to change the will. Maybe you were never around that much, so your siblings talked to your parent and got them to take away your inheritance.
  • Maybe someone else created a new will and tricked your parent into signing. Was your parent dealing with dementia or other degenerative brain diseases? Perhaps someone decided to take advantage of that to get them to a sign a new will, even though your parent had no idea what they were signing at the time.

How can I remove a child from a will?

Disinheriting a child is not something to be taken lightly. Parents must enter into the decision fully informed to prevent serious legal battles after they're gone. Removing a child from one's will can also have lasting effects on a person's relationship, which is why The Balance recommends the following tips. 

Some parents use the threat of disinheritance to get their adult child to behave in a certain way. In most cases, these attempts backfire and result in ruining the parent-child relationship for life. Taking a child out of your will shouldn't be used as a scare tactic, and it's likely that your adult child will simply shut down and refuse to have a relationship with you out of spite. If you're concerned about your child's lifestyle and its possible impact on health and well-being, consider creating a trust. 

What are some of the biggest neighbor pet peeves?

Whether you own your own home or rent your home in Washington State, you most likely want to enjoy the area in which you live. Everyone has different standards for how they live and what they consider acceptable or desirable but there are some actions or behaviors that most people universally would agree can be frustrating to live next to or near.

According to Forbes, one thing that often spurs disputes between neighbors is an encroachment on one person's property. One example of this is if a neighbor builds a new fence but it is positioned too far over the property line onto the adjacent neighbor's property. Another example can be a tree that grows so big as to extend over the next-door neighbor's yard. This can be a particular nuisance if the tree drops cones, needles, fruits or other matter than causes a mess in the neighbor's yard.

Can I prevent an inheritence dispute?

If you are one of the many people in Washington State who dreads the thought of your children or other heirs going at each other after you die in the name of money or treasured family heirlooms, you are not alone. This is the last thing most people want to have happen. It is also the last thing most people would want to be directly involved in as one of the heirs. While there may be no foolproof way to prevent this in all situations, there are some steps that can be taken during the estate planning process that might reduce the chances of these conflicts from occurring.

According to CNBC, some family disputes get started because one or more beneficiaries are surprised about the way in which a particular estate is divided in the end. Proactive communication on the part of the person making the will or trust can go a long way toward setting expectations on the front end. Even if people do not like the terms of a plan, when they know about it and do not feel blindsided in their grieving moments, they may be less likely to initiate a battle about it.

Probate is not a foregone conclusion

During the estate planning process, you may wonder whether your survivors will have to endure probate after you are gone. At Riach Gese Jacobs, we understand your concern about a lengthy legal proceeding that may prevent your heirs from receiving their bequests in a timely fashion or even give rise to litigation. Fortunately, the state of Washington has taken steps to simplify the process, meaning that probate may not be necessary to the administration of your estate. 

However, to take advantage of the simplified process, you have to meet certain conditions. Perhaps most significant, your estate cannot contain any real property, which includes a residence, commercial building or vacant lot. Additionally, the total value of your estate must be less than $100,000.

Bellevue cat subject of disputes, lawsuit

For many residents in Washington State, having a cat or a dog is a normal and joyous part of life. The companionship that a pet can bring to an individual or a family has been proven to be positive by many researchers and other experts. However, not everyone likes dogs or cats and sometimes these animals can become the subject of neighborly disputes.

It is generally assumed that a dog would be the primary animal involved in a dispute with neighbors. This is because a dog can bark incessantly or cause damage to another person's yard or even to another person in some cases. Cats are not generally thought of as problem-makers but one cat from Bellevue appears to be so in the eyes of at least two neighbors, one of whom was previously the manager of a regional animal center. 

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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
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