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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.

Disagreements between neighbors

If you are like most homeowners in Washington State, you try to get along with your neighbors. Some people are fortunate to create close and long-lasting friendships with neighbors that continue even after they no longer live near each other. Others have cordial relationships with neighbors that do not extend beyond that, yet they manage to make living near each other pleasant and positive for all. Unfortunately, there are some people who end up having difficulties with neighbors.

As Zillow describes, one source of dispute between neighbors often starts out with the completely innocent act of planting a tree. Regardless of how slow or fast a tree grows, eventually it may get to a size that becomes a nuisance for those nearby. A tree may obstruct someone's view or put undue pressure on a fence, for example. The roots may extend into a neighbor's yard and cause challenges by impeding gardening or other activities. Some trees are simply very messy and a person who does not have the tree on their property may not appreciate having to clean up after it.

A quick ook at the probate process

When friends or loved ones pass away, they may leave a will designating where they would like their property to go after their death. Once someone passes, the property and assets amassed during their life is distributed to the beneficiaries named in the will. The estate administrator named in the will is appointed to ensure the estate is distributed according to the deceased’s wishes. In some cases, however, the deceased may not name an estate administrator or there may not be a will at all. At this point, the friends or family of the deceased may decide to put the estate through the probate process.

Unlike many other states, Washington does not require an estate to go through the probate process if there is no will present or if there is not an estate administrator. Instead, the family may decide to initiate the process. During the probate process, the decedent’s possessions and assets are located and the estate’s value is calculated. From there, the final debts, bills and taxes are paid from the estate. Finally, the remaining estate assets and possessions are distributed to the beneficiaries named in the will.

Elder financial abuse and estate plans

If you have an aging parent in Washington State, you may well have to be making plans to help ensure they are properly cared for. This care can include many things from activities of daily living to ensuring their affairs are in good order. Even a relatively healthy parent should have a solid estate plan in place and review it regularly. This can help you and other heirs when they do eventually die. 

Unfortunately, many older people can fall victim to financial abuse or exploitation and this can take many forms. As explained by the National Adult Protective Services Association, the experience of elder financial exploitation has been on the rise in the past 10 years. To make matters worse, it is believed that relatives or other trusted advisors are frequently the perpetrators of this type of elder abuse.

Tips to help you be a good neighbor and avoid disputes

You always dreamed of living in a friendly neighborhood where everyone got along. A place where people waved to each other while walking the dog or borrowed eggs to make cookies or sat on the porch at night to talk and watch their children play on the sidewalk.

Getting that type of community is not easy. You have to work for it. Below are a few helpful tips that can reduce the odds of a dispute or a feud:

What can I do if my neighbor has junk all over outside?

Neighbors with piles of junk in their yard is a universal problem that not only occurs in Washington but also occurs around the country. This issue can be cause for concern for a couple very big reasons. First, it attracts vermin and bugs. Second, it lowers the property values in the neighborhood. If you have a neighbor whose home is unkempt, is there anything you can do?

Trulia explains that you can call the city to report your neighbor for the junk collection outside his or her home. There are typically local codes that require people to keep their homes in a sanitary condition. So, if you notice the junk is attracting pests or if it is violating such codes, local authorities may be able to do something about it.

Disputes over will raised by disinherited kids

People in Washington State who get remarried may have been told that having very clear estate plans is important yet some still choose to avoid making these plans. Even in the happiest of blended families, troubles can brew between the biological children of a deceased person and the surviving spouse. One current example of this can be seen in the case of a country music legend who died in the summer of 2018.

As explained by Taste of Country, three adult children of the late Glen Campbell are today asserting that the will his widow has brought forth is invalid. The singer had a total of eight children from his four marriages and it is the three children from his second wife who have raised the dispute and indicated their wish to contest the will. The deceased singer was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease many years before his death and the three siblings have said that the singer would have been incompetent to legally sign the will provided by the man's widow. It is not known when that will was dated.

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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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