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What gets what if you die without a will?

You might believe that by avoiding stipulating who receives your assets when you die, you instead leave the decision to your heirs. This saves you from being blamed for favoring certain heirs over others. Unfortunately, the administration of the estates of those who die intestate (without a will) ie left to the state to manage. Thus, anyone who you might want to receive assets from your estate whose relationship to you is not addressed in the state's intestate succession laws would not be included amongst your heirs. 

Just what are the local intestate succession statutes? They can be found in Section 11.04.015 of the Revised Code of Washington. They state that the first to be entitled to your intestate estate would be your surviving spouse. On top of receiving all of your shared community property, they would receive the following percentages of your separate property: 

  • 100 percent if you have no surviving issue (direct descendants)
  • 75 percent if you have no surviving issue but are survived by parents or siblings 
  • 50 percent if you have surviving issue

Violent neighbor dispute results in $500,000 award

Many people in Washington State have lived near a neighbor that may not have been their favorite for whatever reason at least once in their lives. Fortunately, people often find ways of dealing with difficult neighbors or accepting different opinions and styles so they can maintain peace in their neighborhoods and their homes. In some situations, however, this is not able to happen. An unfortunate example of this can be seen in the case of a prominent U.S. Senator who was actually physically attacked by his neighbor last year.

The Daily Beast indicates that the Senator and his neighbor had been at odds with each other over the Senator's compost process and over some grass clippings. It is not known exactly what about these two things the neighbors disagreed on. One day, the Senator was dismounting his riding lawnmower when the neighbor attacked him, leaving him with broken ribs. No details as to the condition of the neighbor are known.

What happens after a trust ends?

There is an old saying familiar to many in Seattle: "nothing lasts forever." While it may seem like a tired cliché to you, it is nevertheless true as it relates to a trust. As the grantor of a trust, not only do you have some say as to how and when the trust comes to an end, you also have a responsibility to determine what happens afterward. 

According to FindLaw, there are three different ways that a trust can come to an end. The grantor can stipulate that the trust will end upon a beneficiary meeting a certain condition. For example, you could arrange for the trust to end once your beneficiary graduates from high school or college. The grantor can also designate a specific date on which the trust is to end, such as a beneficiary's 18th or 21st birthday. The third way that a trust may end is if the property held in trust becomes exhausted. In other words, there is only a finite amount of property within a trust, and once your beneficiaries have received all the assets, it means the trust is at its end. 

The top 5 reasons you'll have a dispute with your neighbor

Your new neighbor moves in and they seem nice and friendly right off the bat. You don't see them too often, but they wave at you when you walk the dog and occasionally make small talk over the fence.

Though you don't like to think about it, by virtue of your proximity, these people could become a substantial part of your life -- and that's not always a good thing. No matter how well things start, people do sometimes get into heated disputes with their neighbors. This can impact your entire life and how much you enjoy your very home. You need to know how it happens and what you can do.

Secondhand pot smoke and your neighbors

Washington State was one of the first states in the country to legalize the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. While this has been legal now for a few years, there are still situations that arise in which people may be unsure about what might be legal or what might not be legal. In fact, these situations may be happening in any of the states that have legalized recreational pot.

Among the situations that might arise includes the wafting of smoke from a joint being smoked at one home to a neighboring property. As explained by Politifact.com, enjoying marijuana on private property is completely legal. However, if a neighbor finds the aroma or the smoke to be offensive, the issue may need to be dealt with.

What happens if you need to change your will?

Changing a will in Washington is more common than you may think. Any time you have a significant change in life circumstances, you may change your will to reflect the change. There is no penalty involved in changing a will and no limit to the number of times you can do so. In fact, it is better for everyone if you keep your will up-to-date and current because that can help prevent inheritance disputes from arising among your beneficiaries after you are gone.

According to FindLaw, there are two ways to change a will. One say is to add a codicil, a separate document detailing the additions, revocations and changes to the original. Just like the will itself, a codicil must bear the date, your signature and a witness's signature. Estate planning experts no longer recommend codicils for changes to wills because, with the advent of modern technology that allows you to write and print your will with ease, codicils are more trouble than they are worth. 

Proving undue influence

Estate administration proceedings often may not play out the way that you or other interested parties may have anticipated. Those looking in on your situation from an outside prospective may view any questions you or others have about the decedent's will as simply being sour grapes. Yet typically, your concern about your loved one potentially being manipulated outweigh any disappointment you feel regarding your share of their estate. Many in Seattle have come to us here at Riach Gese Jacobs, PLLC with the same concerns, and want to if any recourse is available to address them. 

Section 11.24 of the Revised Code of Washington states that if you believe the terms of your loved one's will were developed under undue influence from another, you are allowed to submit a petition to the court stating your objections to its validity within four months of the will being probated (or rejected from probate). This may come as comforting news to you, but be prepared to have to support your claims. The burden of proof falls to you to prove how whatever party you suspect unduly influenced your family member or friend actually did so. 

Managing difficult neighbors

It is not uncommon for residents shopping for a new home in Washington State to fall in love with a particular property only to end up realizing the neighbors are anything but dreams. It is also possible that a really great neighbor leaves and a new, less desirable one, moves in. In either situation, homeowners have a few choices about how to deal with difficult neighbors or situations that are unpalatable to them.

As explained by The Spruce, a person might see a neighbor starting to work on a project, such as building a new fence, that encroaches on their property. In this situation, proactivity and promptness are essential. The person should speak up before the work has gotten underway or made too much progress so as to minimize any work that may need to be undone eventually.

2019: A fresh year, a fresh estate plan

Residents in Washington State who have established estate plans in place might feel that they have done their work in this area and no longer need to be concerned about this part of their lives. While certainly, it is better to have a plan than to not have one at all, every estate plan is in need of review on occasion. The start of a new calendar year can be a great time to do just this.

Many life events may warrant some changes in a person's estate plans. As explained by Forbes, one of these is the relocation to a new state. A person who has an estate plan that was made when they lived in Texas or Florida, for example, should be updated after they move to Washington State as each state has its own laws that may lead to different estate planning decisions.

Why don't people write wills?

Your parents pass away without an estate plan. They didn't even write a will. Since you never talked to them about it in advance, you're shocked. You definitely thought they had a will. You thought everyone did.

The reality, though, is that a lot of people do not draft wills, and it leads to all sorts of problems for their children. Among those are arguments when kids do not agree on what their parents would have wanted while dividing assets. Without a will to direct them, the children can wind up spending months or even years in court.

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

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