I write to tell you something that has been weighing heavily on my conscience. In the last 8 years, our firm has been brought into some very emotional and traumatic circumstances where a loved one dies or becomes incapacitated without having their estate in order. I know, I know you don’t want to be bothered with these tasks, but the consequences of your inaction are dire, and create long lasting harm to your family. Many of us walk around thinking that you will get to it, and the next thing you know a decade has passed without tending to your estate or modifying your estate to conform to the changes to your life, your family and your business. If you are like me, estate taxes are the least of my concern. Rather, I worry about not having a guardian for my children or a trustee to mange what funds I do have left for their benefit. I worry about my family fighting over my estate because I was irresponsible and too lazy to determine how my estate should be handled.

You would be surprised how many people think that if both spouses die that their kids can go to grandma’s house. That is wrong. If both spouses die without an appointment of guardian within their wills, the kids go to foster care until the family members can petition for custody. Unless you think your kids need to experience the foster care system as part of their life lessons, why would you not take the time to appoint a guardian for them?

Some folks think that while their kids are camped out at their foster parents house they will be able to spend their inheritance. How do you suppose your estate is settled without a Will? Or even worse, how does a 9 year old cash a life insurance check made out to him/her?

Then there is your spouse. So many of us never imagine what our families will suffer when we pass on, leaving a surviving spouse to take care of the needs of your family, and the generation after that. However, we need to. We are so irreplaceable we assume we control all things, when we don’t. I see it every month where someone put off this responsibility, and the surviving spouse or children are left to tend to it while suffering their own despair. When we are so careless, those who survive us have to relive our passing every day because they are having to dig through the minutia of our lives to piece together what we should have done. I’ve experienced this first hand as a person and as a lawyer. It is almost unbearable.

I have also seen the simplest of people take charge of this responsibility in how they prepared for their passing, provided wealth to the next generation and did so with specific well thought out instruction. The family dynamic between those that are responsible compared to those who are not is so striking, I am compelled to write you to take responsibility for your estate, now and later, and accept it as the most honorable and loving act you could ever do to serve your family’s.

One impediment to taking responsibility for our estate is cost. I know that many of us are struggling, but that is no excuse. However, to mitigate those challenges the best that we can, we are offering a family estate package for $1,000.00. Please note that we are not an estate planning firm for the rich. We don’t do foundations or charitable trusts that function as hard money lenders, nor do we offer tricky asset protection and off shore trusts and the like. We are simple lawyers, and we will do simple family wills because every citizen needs to have one. What is included: Wills for each spouse, with a guardian and trust provision for children, Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Estate, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, a Health Care Directive, and where necessary, a Community Property Agreement.

If we have done estate planning with you in the last 2 years, and charged you more than $1,000.00, we will credit your account the difference and allow you to gift someone that you love with the credit towards their family estate package. There will be no refunds, but you can pay the benefit forward.

To participate, you need to click on the following link, and sign Tacey Law Group PS Reviews.This opportunity expires September 15, 2013. We may do it again, but would like to get feedback to see how we can better do this in the future.

If not through us, please make every effort to take responsibility for your estate. I know most of you very well, and I am confident that you are some of the most honorable people on the planet. Honor your family and take care of this.

Should I Have A Living Trust?

The “Living Trust” has become a popular estate planning tool, but it likely does not make sense for most Washingtonians. The concept of the Living Trust is that all the assets of one’s estate are placed into a trust with directions for the trust to provide for that person’s life and then to pass the trust assets to designated beneficiaries upon that person’s death. Common myths are that the Living Trust reduces taxes and places the estate’s assets outside the reach of creditors. Neither is true. Living Trusts still transfer assets and, therefore, are subject to the same taxes as other estates. More importantly, in Washington and many other states, a trust may be pierced by creditors where the person(s) who funded the trust (trustors) are also beneficiaries (receivers) of the trust. So , why have a Living Trust?

A Living Trust simply avoids probate. The general story is that Living Trusts were born in California where estate percentage probate fees were often exceeding the actual legal work required. The Living Trust avoids probate because the assets are owned by the Trust and, upon death, the trust transfers the assets to designated persons without probate. This can be particularly valuable when an estate holds property in several states, each of which would require a separate probate action. Living Trusts can also avoid guardianships by providing for a trustee if the original trustor/trustee were to become incapacitated. Other benefits of a Living Trust are that asset transfers typically are quicker, privacy is preserved without a public accounting filed in probate, the trust can continue to manage estate assets after death, and married couples can more easily maintain separate property.

For many, however, these advantages do not justify the expense. Planning a Living Trust takes more work than a will, and each asset transferred into the trust requires separate documentation with associated fees. In Washington, legal fees for probate typically are hourly, so probate costs for a smaller estate are modest. A Living Trust usually requires ongoing administration fees, whether for a third-party trustee or just maintaining the trust books and the integrity of trust ownership of the assets. A Living Trust also can be inconvenient because transactions like a loan or insurance now require the Trustee and often an examination of the Trust documents by the bank or insurance company. Finally, a Living Trust can result in new problems with title insurance, Subchapter S stock, and many other issues. A Living Trust is not for everyone.

It’s not fun and it won’t make you rich, but everyone needs to have an estate plan. Whether a full estate examination or a simple will placeholder, please don’t procrastinate, the only way for you to be heard from beyond is to put it in writing before your day comes.