Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wills In Depth

There are 5 main reasons why everyone needs a Will.

(1)  Wills are not primarily about property, so it doesn't matter if you have assets or not.  Wills are a tangible way to communicate love, and the wish that those you leave behind get along in your absence.  Wills can avoid rifts in families, hurt feelings, anger, resentment and damaged relationships.  By executing your Will, you are making harm to your loved ones less likely, and you are increasing the chances that your family will come together in a positive way to grieve the loss of you and strengthen the bonds among themselves.  Property is only a small (but important) part of what is being administered when a person dies - relationships among survivors are a much more important part. By facing mortality in this tangible way, Wills provide an opportunity to make relationships better, not just after you are gone but right now.  By communicating with your family that you have taken steps to protect and benefit them, you will likely feel better about yourself and those who are most important to you.  People generally don't like signing a Will, but almost everyone likes having signed a Will.

(2)  Your heirs may not agree to waive the bond requirement, which could result in having to post a bond of hundreds or thousands of dollars in order to administer the estate.  This can create stress and arguments because people are generally not at their best after experiencing a loss.Under RCW 11.28.210 "Any person interested may at any time by verified petition to the court, or otherwise, complain of the sufficiency of any bond or sureties thereon, and the court may upon such petition, or upon its own motion, and with or without hearing upon the matter, require the personal representative to give a new, or additional bond, or bonds, and in all such matters the court may act in its discretion and make such orders and citations as to it may seem right and proper in the premises."

(3)  Your heirs may not agree on who should be the personal representative (executor or administrator) of the estate, which could result in costly litigation, and waste or theft of estate property.  This can also create stress and arguments.

(4)  Your heirs may not agree that the personal representative should have nonintervention powers which allow sale and distribution of estate assets without prior approval from the Court.  The absence of these powers increases the cost to probate the estate, and may require hearings on contested motions.  Stress and arguments may result.

(5)  You may have a different preference of beneficiaries than provided for in the Intestacy statute, which could result in your property not being given to those you would wish to have it.  Again, this can not only create stress and arguments, but could also result in family members not speaking to each other for extended periods following your passing. The Washington State Legislature has enacted an Intestacy Statute that determines what happens to your assets after you die if you don't have a Will.  The statute follows your next of kin in the manner in which most people would distribute their estate.  It is still important to have a Will because you may have different wishes, and you may want a particular person to administer the estate.  A great deal of the value of an estate can be consumed in disputes.  This value can make a real difference in the lives of heirs rather than being squandered.  Without a Will, it is easier to steal from your estate because there is a period of time where no one has the authority to act.  During that time, assets can be removed from the estate so that the Personal Representative who does the inventory doesn't even know the assets are missing.  So, while I do not believe that the property distribution is the most important reason to have a Will; it is important.

 By administering estates carefully and properly pursuant to a Will with full communication with and disclosure to all concerned, the administration of the material aspects of an Estate can and should protect and preserve (and possibly even enhance or begin to heal) relationships among the survivors you loved.

For residents of King County, a Will Repository is available.

What is the Will Repository?

Why use the Will Repository? Family members may be unaware of the existence or location of a decedent’s last will. The Will Repository can help keep your or your family member’s will in a safe, secure place for 100 years. Fee is only $20.00. This will save you the continued expense of a safe deposit box and may save your family the expense of obtaining a court order to access the safe deposit box and/or of having to drill open the box. The costs and process involved when the original will cannot be found can be daunting; securing the original will in the Repository can help avoid this.

 14205 SE 36th St Ste 100
Bellevue, WA 98006-1553
Phone: 425-649-1190
Fax: 425-223-3197


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