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EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT

ESTATE PLANNING Know What Is Estate Planning, Its Importance, and What Estate Planning Will Do for the Future of Your Family

STEPHEN M WALTAR BELLEVUE WASHINGTON ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY


Estate planning means something different to everybody. Those who have gone through this process are well aware of the importance, as well as what this will do for the future of their family. On the other hand, there are people who have never given estate planning a second thought. For this reason, they don’t fully realize the importance and why they should consider doing this as soon as possible. Simply put, estate planning is the process of creating a strategy for the transfer of your estate after your death. In other words, you are taking the appropriate steps towards ensuring that your assets are transferred to the appropriate person or people. Your estate includes all the property you own, such as: Real estate Cash Retirement accounts Investment accounts Bank accounts Cars Clothes Jewelry Antiques

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ESTATE PLANNING GOALS The primary goal of estate planning is to ensure that all your property is distributed to the proper person after your death. As you dig deeper into the estate planning process, you will realize that there are many other objectives including: Taking steps towards minimizing the amount of taxes paid by your beneficiary Ensuring the well being of your children by assigning a guardian

IMPORTANT ESTATE PLANNING TERMS As you get started with the estate planning process, several terms will come up time and time again. It is important to become familiar with all these terms so you can fully understand what you are doing and which decisions make the most sense. Here are three of the most common estate planning terms, complete with a brief definition of each: Will: a legal document that provides detailed information on what is to happen to your property after your death. Trust: with a trust, you are “entrusting” property to one person or organization. This person or group is given the responsibility of managing the property on behalf of the beneficiary or beneficiaries. Power of attorney: this gives a person the legal power to handle another person’s affairs should they be unable to do so.

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WHEN TO GET STARTED Even though you may realize the importance of estate planning, there may be another question on your mind: when is it best to get started? There is no right or wrong answer as to when you should consider creating a will, among other legal documents, as a means of deciding the fate of your assets. Most people begin to consider this process when they are no longer dependent on their parents. For example, if you were recently married it is time for you to look into the estate planning process. While you don’t have to do this, since your property would likely be transferred to your spouse upon your death, it is better to be safe than sorry. The same holds true if you recently had your first child. It is a must that you prepare for anything and everything that could happen, including the death of you and your spouse. You want to make sure you choose a guardian you can trust to raise your child if you and your spouse pass away. As a general rule of thumb, the older you get the more important it is to go through the estate planning process. You don’t want to leave any stone unturned as you age.

BENEFITS OF HIRING AN ATTORNEY If you have been looking into the finer details of estate planning, you have likely realized that it is possible to create a will (as well as other legal documents, such as power of attorney) on your own.

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While this is your right, there are many benefits associated with hiring an attorney: Professional advice from a qualified and knowledgeable expert Access to somebody who can answer your questions with 100 percent accuracy The ability to ensure that all your documents are legal Somebody who can make the necessary changes to your legal documents as you age

QUESTIONS TO ASK AN ATTORNEY Like many, you may be shying away from hiring an estate planning attorney because you don’t know where to start. With so many legal professionals offering this service, you must ask the right questions before making a decision. Here are several questions to start with: How much experience do you have helping people complete the estate planning process? What are your suggestions for somebody in my position? Can you provide me with references of others you have helped in this regard? What is your fee for this type of service? Can you lend any additional information as to what sets your estate planning services apart from the competition?

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Once you ask these questions, you will have a better idea of which attorney is right for you based on the steps you are interested in taking at the present time. Tip: don’t sell yourself short if you don’t immediately find the perfect fit. It is best to continue your search as opposed to doing everything on your own or paying a professional that doesn’t have the right knowledge. Estate planning is not something to take lightly. There are many details that go into this process, some of which can become confusing, especially if you are attempting to deal with everything on your own. By following this advice, you should have a better understanding of what estate planning entails as well as the steps you can take to put yourself on the right track.

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About the Author Stephen M Waltar Steve was born on March 15, 1962, in Boston, Massachusetts. His true roots, however, are firmly planted in the Pacific Northwest. Steve grew up in Richland, Washington and moved to Seattle in 1980 to attend college (Seattle Pacific University, B.A., cum laude, 1984). He lived in Princeton, New Jersey for three years during graduate school (Princeton Theological Seminary, M.Div., 1988). Steve returned to Puget Sound to attend law school in Tacoma (University of Puget Sound/Seattle University, J.D., 1993). He was admitted to the Washington State Bar in 1994. Steve is also admitted to practice in United States District Court, Western District of Washington. EXPERIENCE Prior to establishing his own law firm in 2000, Mr. Waltar spent four years at an exclusive estate planning law firm in Seattle. Mr. Waltar limits his law practice to areas associated with estate planning, including trusts, estate tax law, wills, probate, asset protection, business incorporation & succession planning, charitable giving, and disability planning. Before he limited his practice to estate and business planning, Mr. Waltar was with Rosenow, Johnson, Graffe, Keay & Moniz, focusing his practice on general litigation, insurance defense, and family law. Before joining Rosenow Johnson, he supervised the family law department at Mulligan & Associates, P.L.L.C. Steve is a popular and entertaining speaker at estate planning seminars, and has taught both professionals and lay people estate planning and charitable giving. Steve has given over 100 seminars and talks and has taught courses at the University of Washington, Seattle University, Seattle Pacific University, Northwest University, and Bellevue Community College. He has spoken to private and public employees as well as to numerous communities, civic and religious groups. Steve has been a co-host and guest on two syndicated radio programs. He is currently publishing his first book on Estate Planning. Stephen M Waltar, PS www.waltar.com Hidden Valley Office Park 1750 112th Avenue NE, Suite C245 Bellevue, WA 98004 Phone: (425) 455-6788 Fax: (425) 450-4601

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Everything You Need to Know About Estate Planning