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Can you keep a disagreement from escalating to a dispute?

When you move into your new neighborhood in Seattle, the excitement of being in your new home may overshadow your concerns about meeting your new neighbors at first. However, with time, chances are you will notice the people who live in your neighborhood, especially those who live immediately around you. If a disagreement surfaces, what can you do to prevent it from turning into a full-on dispute?

Fortunately, there are diplomatic ways in which you can express your concerns without coming across as abrasive, angry or rude. As soon as you identify an issue, be cordial in the way you approach your neighbor. Express your concerns without attacking them personally or their property. You may even consider taking them a treat to lessen the intensity and tension of the situation. According to Zillow, if you recognize something that is bothering you that could potentially be an ongoing problem, consider negotiating a solution in writing that can be referenced if there are future disagreements. 

Do I need to document my online logins?

If you are like many people in Washington State who have created a will or a trust several years ago, you might have focused on traditional elements like who will inherit your home and who will be the executor of your estate or the trustee of your trust. Depending on how long ago you created your estate plan, you may not have given much, if any, thought to online logins and accounts. Now is the time to review and include these elements in your plan.

Regardless of the type of asset or debt, most people have some sort of online account to manage and track these things today. Even utility companies often promote the use of online payment and billing systems and certainly checking and savings accounts are commonly accessed via the web or mobile banking apps. Your family members will have a tough time managing these things without knowing your login credentials. 

Examining whether no contest clauses are enforceable

Among the many reasons why people in Seattle may put off the process of estate planning is due to a fear of upsetting their beneficiaries because of their decisions. Yet the alternative is putting the matter completely at the mercy of state law. Those who are concerned that their estate decisions may prompt discord may want to consider including an added degree of enforceability to their wills. This can be done by including language that amounts to a "no contest" clause

No contest clauses are provisions in a will that present the potential for penalties to be leveled towards designated beneficiaries who challenge the validity of one's will. These penalties can include one seeing their interest in an estate distributed elsewhere, effectively disinheriting them. The purpose of such a clause is, of course, to deter beneficiaries from starting a dispute. Some may question, however, whether these clauses are actually enforceable. 

4 reasons for unequal bequests

Unequal bequests can wreak havoc on a family when they read the will. Children typically expect that assets will get divided evenly. Three children all expect the same amount of money, for example, or they expect to share ownership of real estate.

However, parents sometimes opt to leave unequal bequests, which can lead to some serious disputes. Children feel insulted. They feel like their parents didn't love them as much as their siblings. They feel like the estate plan rips them off. They take all these frustrations to court.

Who needs to talk about estate plans?

If you are one of the many people in Washington State who has not only created but regularly maintained and updated your estate plan, you should feel quite good about this. It can provide great peace of mind knowing that you have your affairs in order. However, have you also taken the time and made the effort to discuss your plan with your family members? If you have not done this, your estate and your family could be headed for trouble you would not want to imagine.

As explained by AARP, holding family discussions about a person's estate plans should be considered part and parcel of making the plan in the first place. Family disputes can arise even when all plans and wishes are clearly outlined in wills, trusts or other ways. One set of siblings spent eight years in litigation before resolving how they would split up a vacation home and some land. Whether the vacation home on the San Juan Islands or a primary residence in Tacoma, people in Washington State should be sure their children know how things will be taken care of ahead of time.

Sisters sue brother in trial court over mother's estate

Seattle residents may be counseled to only consider those that they completely trust to serve as their executors or personal representatives. While that advice may be sound, it means that many may often be asked to serve in such roles that are not familiar with the state's probate code or the estate administration process in general. Such knowledge may not be a requirement to serve an executor (there are plenty of resources available to assist one in the execution of such duties), yet it may prove beneficial should unique situations arise that test legal procedural limitations. 

Take the case of an Indiana family: though the family included three sons and three daughters, only one of each was asked to serve as co-executors of their mother's estate. The three sisters later questioned their brothers' motives in having their mother transfer assets to them prior to her death, thus depleting the overall value of the estate that was meant to be distributed amongst the six siblings equally. They eventually sued the brother serving as executive, yet were forced to bring their claim in trial court due to the fact that the timely filing limits of the probate court had already passed. The judge hearing the case allowed it to proceed, yet the brother appealed saying that the matter needed to be argued in probate court. The appellate court ultimately confirmed the judge' ruling, stating that since the probate court filing limits had passed, the only remedy available to the sisters was in trial court. 

Misuse of financial power is a form of elder abuse

When people hear the term "elder abuse," their thoughts often are turned to cases where elderly people who are in a vulnerable state are abused physically and emotionally. However, elder abuse can also be sexual and financial. When family members in Seattle are entrusted with making financial decisions for elderly loved ones, they are under the obligation of the law to conduct their decisions in a way that would have satisfied their incapacitated family member. Failure to do so can be damaging to relationships and also result in costly legal consequences. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, financial abuse can result when people use forgery, coercion, theft and misuse of power of attorney in exploiting an elderly individual. Often, people who have been entrusted with making financial decisions for their elderly family members have access to view sensitive information of that individual including data about personal benefits, assets and other belongings. If they misuse this information or keep their elderly loved one from viewing that information, they are abusing their power. 

When good fences do not make good neighbors

While a famous poet once wrote that "good fences make good neighbors," we at Riach Gese Jacobs believe that this is not necessarily true. Sometimes a fence may lead to a dispute between neighbors.

Learning how the law applies to fences between adjoining properties may help you to avoid disputes between you and your neighbors.

What should you know about passing a business down?

You've spent the last three decades building your business up, but now it's time to pass it down. You want to keep it in the family and hand it off to your children. They'll get it along with the rest of your estate, from the family home to your investments.

However, you know that passing on a business can be far more complicated than splitting up money or traditional assets. What do you need to know about this process?

What can cause inheritance disputes?

When you plan your estate carefully, you expect that when you die, everything will go as you want it. However, that is not always true. Inheritance disputes are common. When they occur in Washington, it can delay the distribution of your assets and the carrying out of your wishes. Since you will not be around to handle the situation yourself, your best option is to plan for any possible disputes. It helps to understand what causes them, so you can do this.

According to CNBC, inheritance disputes can occur in any type of family situation and for any type of estate. One of the top causes is drama or issues within the family. If you know that there are issues between certain individuals, you may want to design your estate plan so as to avoid adding to the drama. For example, do not make your sister the executor if you know she does not get along with your other family members.

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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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