A Trust Attorney in Tacoma Can Help You and Your Family

A trust attorney in Tacoma can help you with estate planning that can benefit both you and others. Trusts are a flexible and effective way to put your assets to use during your life and afterward. They can help you or others qualify for government benefits, improve the life of someone who is disabled, or provide ongoing income to family members or nonprofits you care about. They’re the Swiss Army knife of estate planning documents.

What is a Trust?

A trust is a fiduciary relationship where one party, a trustor, gives another party, a trustee, the ability to hold title to assets or property to benefit a third party, the beneficiary.

A fiduciary can be an individual or organization acting on behalf of another, putting those interests ahead of their own. A trustee must act legally and ethically to follow the trust’s instructions and act in the beneficiaries’ best interests.

A trust, through the trustee, protects the assets and distributes them according to the trustor’s wishes. It can transfer property like a will. It may also be a way to avoid or lessen the probate process and avoid or reduce inheritance or estate taxes. No matter your wants or needs, a trust lawyer in Tacoma can help.

What Are Washington State Trust Requirements?

A trust attorney in Tacoma will make sure the document and process comply with all applicable laws. Using an online, fill-in-the-blank trust form won’t do you any good if it won’t withstand a legal challenge. Under state law, a trust is created if:

  • The trustor has the mental capacity to create a trust.
  • The trustor shows an intent to make the trust.
  • The trust names a definite beneficiary, is a charitable trust, funds care for an animal, or is for a noncharitable purpose.
  • The trustee has duties to perform.
  • The sole trustee is not also the sole beneficiary.

To have the mental capacity to create a trust, the trustor must be at least 18 years old and understand their property and the natural objects of their bounty (family members). A noncharitable trust can maintain a family residence, personal property, or gravesites, or fund a family business.

A Tacoma Trust Attorney Can Show You Why You Should Set Up a Trust

A trust can accomplish many estate planning goals.

You don’t need to be wealthy to create a trust, but you have more reasons to create one when you have more assets. They include:

  • To provide income for beneficiaries who can’t properly manage assets themselves because of poor judgment, disability, or substance abuse
  • To avoid probate and protect your privacy (The public can read probated wills.)
  • To prevent assets from being used by a beneficiary’s creditors
  • To prevent premarital assets from being divided during a divorce
  • To put aside funds to benefit the trustor if they become incapacitated
  • To manage unique assets such as pets, mineral and timber interests, and commercial real estate
  • To operate a closely held business as part of a business succession plan
  • To hold life insurance policies
  • For charitable gifting that may reduce income taxes and benefit the trustor, their spouse, and their children
  • To reduce assets to qualify for Medicaid benefits
  • To provide income for a surviving spouse and protect trust assets for descendants if the spouse remarries
  • To shelter assets from transfer and estate taxes.

If your needs don’t fit this list, a Tacoma trust attorney can give you the right option for you and your family.

Trust Lawyers in Tacoma Can Create the Right Trust for You and Your Family

A Tacoma trust attorney can create the right trust to meet your needs. There are two general types:

  • Revocable: You can change or revoke. It’s flexible, and you can move assets in and out of the trust. It can be used with your will to pass highly valuable property, like a house, quickly to your beneficiaries.
  • Irrevocable: It can’t be changed after it’s created, except in rare situations. This inflexibility has benefits, such as possible tax reduction and asset protection from creditors.

Within these general categories, there are trusts for specific needs. They include:

  • Bypass or AB: This is part of a planning strategy for wealthier, married couples who want to minimize estate taxes. There are two trusts created for when one dies. The A or marital trust holds assets for the survivor and a second, the B or credit shelter trust, helps minimize estate taxes.
  • Charitable: This trust creates an income stream for you while also planning a donation to a charity. You may qualify for an income tax deduction and minimize possible capital gains and estate taxes.
  • Family: It passes property and assets to family members.
  • Joint: Two people fund a trust and are its co-trustees. Washington State has community property laws, and spouses living here can benefit from this trust as part of their estate plan. When one spouse dies, the survivor becomes the sole trustee and manages the property. After that person passes away, a successor trustee manages the trust and will distribute assets to beneficiaries based on instructions in the trust document.
  • Living or Inter Vivos: You create this trust during your life. It can be irrevocable or revocable. (If you go this route, you can change the trust and beneficiaries over time.)
  • Medicaid: To get Medicaid benefits for long-term care costs, the person must have a low income and few assets. This type of trust can help you qualify, because it prevents some of your assets from being considered when you apply for Medicaid.
  • Special Needs Trust: The beneficiary has a disability. Instead of giving the person assets, which may disqualify them from Medicaid and other government benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI), they’re put into a trust. The person receives income or has costs paid while also receiving these benefits.
  • Spendthrift: This limits a beneficiary’s creditor’s access to trust assets, which is helpful for a beneficiary who owes large debts or faces or has lost a civil lawsuit. Trust assets can help the person pay bills, but they can’t be reached to pay debts or a legal judgment.
  • Testamentary or Pour-Over: The trust is created “on paper” but isn’t funded until you pass away and your estate is probated. All or some of your estate assets “pour over” into the trust. These are irrevocable since they only go into effect after your death. You can also use estate assets to fund trusts that became active during your life.

Our trust lawyers in Tacoma will take the time to talk to clients to learn their needs and what they want to accomplish and propose an estate plan. No matter your situation or goals, a trust may be your best option.

Why Choose Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess?

You can rely on our knowledgeable, experienced attorneys to create a trust that complies with the law and will meet your needs.

A trust allows your assets to serve your needs as well as those of family members and charitable organizations you care about. If Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess Tacoma trust attorneys are involved in creating and executing your trust, you can feel confident that we will create a document that reflects your wishes, can be implemented by a trustee, and complies with state law.

Trust administration can be complex and intimidating depending on the trust, assets, and beneficiaries. If you’re a trustee, you may have difficulties and even face legal action filed by beneficiaries or potential beneficiaries. A Tacoma Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess trust attorney can help clarify your obligations, negotiate a resolution, and represent the trust in legal action.

If you make a mistake, it can be costly for the trust — and possibly to you, too. With assistance from Tacoma trust attorneys, you may prevent personal liability that can arise if you’re accused of mismanaging the trust.

No matter the issue, Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess has more than 100 years of experience helping clients reach their goals, avoid problems, and resolve the critical legal issues they face.

Contact a Trust Lawyer in Tacoma Today

If you live in the area and have questions about trusts, or would like one executed as part of your estate plan, call the Tacoma trust attorneys at Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess at 253-572-1000 today. We have the experience and knowledge you need to set up the trust that best fits your situation.

Attorney Robert Dickson

Attorney Robert DicksonThe core of Rob’s legal practice is civil litigation, with an emphasis on construction, real estate, and business law. He represents a wide range of clients, from large construction companies to individual homeowners. His is a practical approach to law, which strives to balance the need for a successful legal outcome with a client’s financial goals (or constraints). Outside of his private practice, Rob serves as an adjunct professor at the Seattle University School of Law where he teaches real estate litigation. [ Attorney Bio ]

    our firm

    Attorney Thomas L. Dickson

    Thomas L. Dickson

    Tom is an experienced litigator and the founding partner of the firm. For over 30 years, he’s helped clients prevail in their real estate, construction, and business law matters.

    attorney profile
    Attorney Heather Burgess

    Heather Burgess

    Heather represents property owners and developers in all phases of real estate development, from pre-acquisition due diligence through local permitting and appeals.

    attorney profile
    Attorney Robert P. Dickson

    Robert P. Dickson

    The core of Rob’s legal practice is civil litigation, with an emphasis on construction, real estate, and business law. He represents a wide range of clients, from large construction companies to individual homeowners.

    attorney profile
    Attorney Daniel J. Frohlich

    Daniel J. Frohlich

    Dan’s legal practice focuses on civil litigation, real estate law, business law and probate law. He has more than 10 years of experience as an attorney serving clients throughout Western Washington.

    attorney profile
    Attorney Mark S. Johnson

    Mark S. Johnson

    Mark’s legal practice focuses on civil litigation, real estate law, business law and family law. He works tirelessly to help his clients achieve the outcome they are looking for.

    attorney profile
    Attorney Trevor A. Zandell

    Trevor A. Zandell

    Since graduating with honors from law school in 2005, Trevor has been serving the legal needs of businesses, individuals, and families across Southwest Washington.

    attorney profile
    Attorney Daniel E. Pizarro

    Daniel E. Pizarro

    As an associate at Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess, Daniel is active in the firm’s civil litigation department. His practice is mainly centered around real estate law, landlord-tenant law, construction law, and probate law.

    attorney profile
    Attorney Alexander J. Wisbey

    Alexander J. Wisbey

    Alexander Wisbey comes to the firm with 5 years of experience as a litigator and trial attorney. He has first chaired several jury trials and has extensive experience handling arbitrations, mediations, depositions, and settlements.

    attorney profile
    Attorney Andrew Hata

    Andrew Hata

    Andrew is the head of our Transactional Department and focuses his practice on corporate governance, real estate transactions, commercial contracts, and corporate finance.

    attorney profile
    Attorney Kelley Duggan

    Kelley Duggan

    As an associate at Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess, Kelley practices in a wide range of areas, including estate planning, probate, civil litigation, and intellectual property law.

    attorney profile
    Attorney Cambria A. Queen

    Cambria A. Queen

    Cambria is an Associate with Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess in the civil litigation department, where she practices primarily real estate and probate law.

    attorney profile
    Attorney George Knight

    George Knight

    As an associate at Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess, George is active in the firm’s civil litigation and transactional departments. His practice is mainly centered around business law, real estate law, construction law, employment law, and probate law.

    attorney profile
    Attorney Chris Pierce-Wright

    Chris Pierce-Wright

    Chris comes to Phillips Burgess Tacoma from Seattle, where he served as an associate attorney focused on insurance litigation with Wilson Smith Cochran Dickerson.

    attorney profile
    Attorney Jennifer Yoo

    Jennifer Yoo

    Jennifer is an associate attorney at Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess where her current practice focuses on real estate law, contract and commercial disputes, and business law.

    attorney profile
    Attorney Katherine E. Baals

    Katherine E. Baals

    As an associate at Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess, Katherine practices in a range of areas, including real estate, construction, business, and civil litigation.

    attorney profile
    Attorney Kenneth Chan

    Kenneth Chan

    As an associate at Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess, PLLC, Kenny is active in the firm’s civil litigation and transactional departments. Prior to working at Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess, Kenny was an in-house attorney for a Fortune 100 company.

    attorney profile
    Attorney Brian Buske

    Brian Buske

    Following his graduation from Lewis & Clark Law School, Brian garnered valuable client experience working on international compliance and intellectual property issues.

    attorney profile
    Attorney Kyla S. Bennett

    Kyla S. Bennett

    As an associate at Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess, Kyla practices in a range of areas, including real estate, land use, and civil litigation.

    attorney profile
    Attorney Matt Wand

    Matt Wand

    Matt was born and raised in East Multnomah County in the Gresham area where he lives and has raised his family. His wife of more than twenty-five years is Anne Wand and they have three children together.

    attorney profile


    I highly recommend Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess and if I ever need a lawyer again they will be my first call.

    - Jeremy H.

    I can’t even tell you how much I appreciate this firm! These guys helped me through one of the most challenging legal situations I’ve faced in my life. Their skill and expertise literally saved my business. I’ve dealt with other counsel in the past but the Dickson firm was by far the most competent and tactful counsel I’ve ever received. I would recommend this group to anyone!

    - Keith D.

    It’s a pleasure to work with the guys at Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess. One of the first things that stood out to me was how down to earth and friendly everyone at the firm is. I would definitely recommend them.

    - Den L.