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Gig Harbor Estate Planning And Probate Blog

Should you write your neighbor a letter about a disputed fence?

You always hoped you could be a "good" neighbor and get along with the people who lived near you. For a while, it worked. You loved your neighborhood and you seemed to click with everyone. It made your life fairly stress-free, which you enjoyed.

Then a family next door moved out and you got new neighbors. They hadn't been there a month before you had a serious problem on your hands: They built a fence on your property.

Business owners can't overlook having an estate plan

Business owners in Washington have a lot to think about as they run their companies. When the business is dependent on the owner to make daily decisions, it can be difficult to think about what will happen if that owner passes away.

Without having a proper plan in place, it might mean that the company dissolves. This can leave employees out of work and the family members who were depending on the business' income left without any support.

Divorcing parents: Estate planning for special needs children

Caring for a special needs child is challenging for all parents. Unfortunately, this sometimes means that the parents will divorce. As difficult as ending a marriage is in even the best of circumstances, it is even worse when the parents have a child who has complex emotional and physical challenges.

Financial planning and medical care planning are challenging for parents of special needs children. When you create an estate plan, these matters must be covered to help the individuals who care for your kids when you aren't able to.

Was your contract with your real estate agent breached?

You're a busy individual who depends upon your real estate agent to sell your home. But lately you've begun to believe that your agent isn't making selling your home a priority. In fact, you think the agent may even be in breach of the contract for services that you both signed.

Before you take any action to legally sever your business ties with your real estate agent, ask yourself if any of the following apply:

4 common estate planning errors to avoid

Adults should ensure they have a valid estate plan that accurately reflects their wishes. This plan must be handled in a way that complies with applicable laws so that it is fully enforceable when the time comes for your loved ones to use it.

There are several mistakes that people make when they are creating their estate plan. Reviewing some of the common errors might help you to avoid making them in your plan.

Know when to review your estate plan

One mistake that many people make is failing to update their estate plan. This isn't something that you can create once and then forget about forever. Instead, you need to look at the plan periodically so that you can assure it still represents your wishes.

There are certain times when you should check your plan. Major life changes might affect the terms of the plan, such as what assets need to be covered and whom you want those to go to. Making sure that your plan is up to date can help you to feel less stress and will provide guidance for your family members when you pass away.

Don't rush into purchasing a home without evaluating everything

Purchasing a home is a big step for anyone. Making sure that you've taken the steps necessary to get everything in order is important. You don't need to rush the process or you might make mistakes.

For many adults, buying a home is the biggest purchase they will ever make. It should be a place of refuge and not a source of major stress. Making sure you can afford the home and that you buy one that meets your needs are both essential.

Estate planning for adults caring for children and parents

Some adults are in precarious positions. Not only are they caring for their own children, they are also doing the same for their parents. Known as the sandwich generation, they have a lot on their plates. One thing that might fall by the wayside is estate planning.

The challenge that the sandwich generation faces is that they need to ensure that their children are cared for as well as their parents in the event that something catastrophic happens. Here are some important considerations for you to think about if you are in this position:

  • You may need to purchase your parents' home. You can turn around and lease it to them for a fair rental payment each month. This lets them access some of the home's equity but allows them to remain in their home. You will get to enjoy some tax breaks from the situation, such as one for mortgage interest.
  • Use your parents' medical bills to pay down the value of your estate. You won't have to deal with consequences on your taxes, and you can pay an unlimited amount. The only thing to know about this is that you have to pay the providers directly.
  • Help your parents out financially if possible. You can give up to $15,000 each year without having to worry about taxes. This annual gift tax exclusion is per parent, so you could give a total of $30,000 if you hand each one the maximum possible.
  • Think about long-term care planning. The cost of having to live in a nursing home or assisted living facility is expensive. Unfortunately, most medical insurance policies and Medicare won't cover all of these costs. Investments and long-term care insurance might be viable options to consider.
  • Create a comprehensive estate plan. You can include your parents in your estate plan through the will and trusts. If you decide to use trusts, make sure that you set them up to go to your children when your parents pass away. Additionally, include plans for your end-of-life care to make that easier for everyone if you can't make decisions yourself.

A quick primer on the basics of trusts in estate planning

A trust is a way that people can transfer assets to others without having to go through the probate process. There are many different types, each of which serves a specific purpose. You have to think about what needs to go to whom and determine how they might be affected by the inheritance. In some cases, such as when a person receives needs-based services like Medicaid, a special needs trust is necessary.

If you are considering adding trusts to your estate plan, you need to understand some aspects of the process. This information will help you choose an appropriate trust for the goals of your estate.

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