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Seattle Estate Planning Attorney

Estate Planning Attorney in Seattle

Helping With a Wide Range of Estate Planning Needs

At Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess, our skilled Seattle estate planning attorneys provide comprehensive services for clients with a wide variety of needs. Estate planning is an important process for everyone and, depending on your individual situation and your wishes, estate planning may be relatively simple or extremely complicated. However, no matter what the state of your affairs may be, you always want to ensure you have a thorough and effective estate plan in place that covers all necessary bases after you pass away.

Estate planning is about giving you some control over your life and assets when things are beyond your control. It is also about preventing conflict among your heirs after you’re gone. Your power to express what you want, along with the ability to carry that out through legal documents, is one focus of estate planning. Properly executed documents are critical to avoid court involvement, reduce confusion, and save money and time when your estate goes through probate.

If you don’t have a plan in place, or need to update your existing plan, get the skilled help you need today from our Seattle estate planning lawyers. Call us for help today at 206-621-1110.

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Why Choose Our Seattle Estate Planning Attorney

Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess is Seattle’s preeminent estate planning law firm. With over 100 years of experience, we have established a strong reputation for providing superlative service throughout the Seattle area. Our team of attorneys is led by founding partner Thomas L. Dickson, who has helped clients prevail in estate-related matters throughout his career.

Our estate planning attorneys in Seattle represent a broad base of local clients in a wide range of legal matters, including assistance in and establishing a guardianship, filing a will, drafting Powers of Attorney documents, setting up trusts, and protecting assets for decedents’ heirs or beneficiaries.

We are confident in our record of service to our clients. We have the depth of knowledge, the years of experience, and the attention to your needs to handle your case with skill, attentiveness and detail. Learn what our clients say about how we’ve helped them.

Discover why Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess is the right Seattle law firm for your estate planning matters:

  • Experience – Our decades of experience handling estate matters in the Seattle area informs everything we do. We are equipped to not only help with estate planning, but if issues arise with probate, we are ready and very able to guide you in that area, too. Our knowledge of the local court system and judiciary helps to smooth out difficult legal processes and resolve disputes quickly and efficiently.
  • Affordability – When faced with planning your final matters or dealing with the recent death of a loved one, the last thing you need to worry about is unexpected legal fees. We never hesitate to provide a quote for our estate planning services. Get in touch with us to find out what you can expect.
  • Customer Service – At Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess, we never leave you in the dark. Estate planning can be confusing, particularly if you have multiple needs. You’ll find we always have excellent communication standards and keep you informed of all important issues regarding your estate planning matters. You’ll know what each element of your plan is and how it benefits you and your heirs.
  • Compassion – We know that planning for your final affairs can be hard, particularly if you’re making the wise choice to put together and estate plan while you’re still young. Whether you need to draft a Power of Attorney or are planning your own final affairs, we are here to guide you with compassion and respect. Our Seattle estate planning lawyer can assist you with vital paperwork matters so that you can get back to your day-to-day life.
  • Security – You may have concerns about possible conflict that could arise related to decisions you make about inheritances. Perhaps you are worried some relatives may not have your best interests at heart should you be in a position where you are unable to make medical or financial decisions for yourself. Our estate planning attorney will ensure your wishes are clear and that the drafting of your estate documents will solidly protect those wishes.

What Does Estate Planning Entail?

Many different legal devices are available in estate planning, and the type of plan that is right for you will depend on the nature and size of your estate. Other factors will impact the way in which your estate plan should be constructed, including the identities of your intended beneficiaries. While you may know of a few typical elements of an estate plan, there are likely some you haven’t considered. While the below is not an exhaustive list, it gives you a sense of what documents our Seattle estate planning attorneys can draft for you.

  • Trusts
  • Wills
  • Tax planning
  • Living wills
  • Conservatorships or guardianships
  • Power of attorney
  • Health care directives.

These are only some of the legal devices we can use to establish the right comprehensive estate plan for you that fully protects your surviving family members in accordance with your wishes. Learn how our Seattle estate planning attorney can tailor documents to your needs.

The more tightly drafted your estate planning documents are, the more smoothly your wishes can be carried out in the future. Give our experienced team a call today at 206-621-1110.

Why Do I Need an Estate Plan?

Our Seattle Estate Planning Attorney Provides Reasons to Plan

Many people mistakenly believe that estate planning is only necessary for wealthy individuals with large houses and pricey possessions. The truth is, however, that anyone with any amount of property should have an estate plan to protect their family. If you pass away without an estate plan, the disposal of your real and personal property and debts will be left solely to the discretion of the Washington Probate Courts in accordance with the state intestacy laws. You don’t want to surprise your potential heirs and die without a will in place. Probate is often an expensive and lengthy process for children, parents, or other surviving family members.

Having an estate plan—no matter how simple—can help them avoid time spent in court and costly court fees.

There are good reasons to use our estate planning attorney in Seattle to draft the documents that will determine how your estate is distributed upon your passing. Some of those reasons are:

1. To clarify your wishes in a well-drafted will.

You can make your wishes known regarding your heirs and what they inherit, but you can also protect those wishes by preventing estranged relatives from laying claim to a portion of your estate. Your will can specify what charities you’d like to support with a portion or all of your estate. As your life changes, your will may need to change, too. You can also talk to our estate planning lawyer about when you should change your will.

2. To plan for guardianship of your children.

If you’re a parent, using our estate planning attorney to help you construct a will is highly important to your minor children. If you don’t clarify who will care for them in your will, the state will make that determination.

3. To develop a plan for your end-of-life medical care.

Our team will help you determine what directions to provide for your medical needs when a time comes that you are unable to speak for yourself. In addition to drafting a directive for medical providers, our Seattle estate planning attorney can prepare a Medical Power of Attorney which allows you to name who you want acting on your behalf in making medical decisions when you cannot do so yourself.

4. To determine who will make legal and financial decisions on your behalf when you’re incapacitated.

The person you name who will handle these decisions may be the same, or separate, from the person making your medical decisions. Regardless, you’ll need a separate Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) document drafted. Talk to our estate planning lawyers about what types of decisions to include among the powers this person will have. Washington law defines the range of authorities you can assign as you draft your DPOA (R.C.W. §11.125). Because the powers can be broad, you should work with our team to determine which powers you do and don’t need assigned relevant to your estate planning.

5. To set up a living trust.

A trust could benefit people you care about, or organizations you support, both now and long after your life ends. Revocable living trusts allow you to control how your assets are held and distributed while you’re alive, but also after your death. This type of trust can facilitate asset distribution outside of probate, making the process much faster and easier on the beneficiaries of the trust. However, trust documents can be complex and if not handled correctly, will create added problems rather than eliminating them. Our experienced estate planning attorneys understand Washington state laws (R.C.W. §11.103) and have drafted revocable living trusts for a wide range of clients’ needs. Chances are very good we’ve developed trusts just like the one that will fit your needs.

6. To plan for your pets.

For many of us, our pets are a member of the family. If you pass away, just as you want to name a guardian for your children, you will want to also name a guardian for your pets. Talk to our team about how you can include a pet trustee in your will to ensure your loved animal will be well cared for.

Our Seattle Attorneys Assist with Estate Administration

Even if a will is found to be valid, administering the estate in accordance with the terms of the wills is a complicated task in itself. The will should name an executor who is responsible for estate administration, which can include the following:

  • File the will with the probate court
  • Locate and notify all beneficiaries
  • Locate the deceased’s assets and manage them throughout the probate process
  • Open a bank account for the estate for any stock dividends or other payments that may come in during probate
  • Continue to pay all bills such as mortgages and homeowner’s insurance until the property is transferred
  • File and pay income taxes for the year during which the individual died
  • Notify creditors of the death and probate and pay debts out of the estate
  • Distribute all real estate, assets, and personal property to the proper beneficiaries in the will
  • Request the probate court to formally close the estate.

As you can see, estate administration can be complicated, and the assistance of a skilled attorney can be invaluable for the executor throughout this process.

How to Avoid Estate Planning Problems

Work with Our Estate Planning Attorney in Seattle and Prevent Future Problems

Because there are basic estate planning documents you can find online you may think, why not go with do-it-yourself estate planning? It’s certainly helpful to educate yourself about the options available to you in planning your estate. However, without knowledge of the full range of estate planning tools and Washington laws, you may create problems. Heirs may try to contest a will, or attempt to find fault with the actions of the estate’s personal representative in terms of how assets are distributed. Proper estate planning handled by a knowledgeable and experienced attorney should avoid probate problems. Working with our Seattle estate planning attorney is an investment from which both you and your family can benefit.

If you don’t properly plan for what happens to your estate after you pass, there may be problems as it goes through probate. You can spare those whom you wish to inherit from added difficulties if you work with our estate planning attorney in Seattle to ensure you not only understand what assets pass through probate and which assets don’t but also to make the choices you want now to simplify that process. Our team will explain to you why assets like employee benefit plans or property owned outside Washington State will pass outside of probate. You may have other non-probate assets (R.C.W. §11.02.005(13)) that you’ll need to know about as you develop your estate plan.

Estate planning is about giving you some control over your life and assets when things are beyond your control. It is also about preventing conflict among your heirs after you’re gone. Your power to express what you want, along with the ability to carry that out through legal documents, is one focus of estate planning. Properly executed documents are critical to avoid court involvement, reduce confusion, and save money and time when your estate goes through probate.

How to Choose a Seattle Estate Planning Attorney

When you hire a Seattle estate planning attorney, there is much more to the job than just filling out forms. You need to think about what you want to accomplish before meeting with an attorney. Write out some notes related to your estate planning goals to capture those thoughts. Consider not only how you’d like your assets distributed after your death, but also who will make financial, legal and healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. Perhaps your financial wishes would be best served by creation of a trust.

While you don’t have to know all the documents related to an estate plan, you can think about the goals you have associated with your estate.

Because of their knowledge and experience, an estate planning attorney can put the plan together to reach as many of those goals as possible, with the least risk of future problems.

Our Estate Planning Attorney in Seattle Is Ready to Help You

If you live in the Seattle or Tacoma area and do not have a proper estate plan, you should take action to protect your loved ones and your property. At Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess, we have over 100 years of combined experience serving the estate planning and probate needs of Seattle residents. Whether you need help drafting a simple will or need to resolve a complex estate dispute, our team is here to help.

Don’t Put it Off. It’s Not too Early to Plan.

Planning for your death or dealing with the final affairs of a loved one can seem very daunting. The longer you delay calling an experienced Seattle estate planning law firm, however, the more complicated your probate matters may become. Don’t wait until it’s too late or until your family is questioning your competence to serve as executor. Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess is here to help you put down your burden and get back to spending time with your family. Call us today at 206-621-1110 for your phone consultation.