Estate Planning & Wills

Our probate attorneys provide counsel to the executor of an estate or to handle the complete process of estate administration.

estate planning shorelineMost people know that they need a will to control how their assets will be distributed after death. However, most people also put off acting on their knowledge. They would prefer not to think about their deaths. At our Shoreline, Washington, law firm, we urge all clients to prepare a will or draft a trust; it is not difficult or expensive.

Attorneys at the Hawkes Law Firm are experienced, concerned and caring. We know that clients may not have settled on guardians for their children. Our experience tells us that they probably do not know how probate works. They may wonder about asset protection. When someone visits our law firm to discuss estate planning, we discuss all these things and more. We give people the information they need to make good decisions that protect their assets and their families.

 

Wills vs. Trusts

We find that for most of our clients, a will is the best estate planning document. However, some clients have special situations that may be better addressed with a trust. For example, parents with a special needs child may wish to draw up a trust that specifically provides for that child. Clients with real estate in different states are often best served by putting that out of state property in a trust. Whatever their circumstances, our clients rely on our firm to help them choose the best solution for their estate planning needs.

 

Other Estate Planning Documents

In addition to a will or trust, there are other documents that should be part of a comprehensive estate plan. These include:

Durable powers of attorney: This document gives the person a voice, even if he or she cannot speak or make decisions because of age, illness or dementia. A durable power of attorney allows another individual to make decisions about health care or finances. It can be written to take effect immediately or only when the client cannot make good decisions because of illness or dementia. Clients who know they are at high risk for afflictions such as Alzheimer’s disease should consult with attorneys at our firm who are experienced and knowledgeable about how those diseases can impact the afflicted person and the family.

Living wills: A Living Will is also known as a Health Care Directive. This is a document allowing people to designate in advance the conditions under which their life support should be withdrawn.

Our estate planning lawyers guide clients through the process of understanding these documents, educating the client and family about the consequences of each. When issues fall outside our practice areas, we refer clients to outside attorneys who practice in areas such as tax and patent law.

 

Will Contests

People who have made a will think they have done everything they need to do to protect their families and their assets. And this is true in most instances. However, in some cases, a will is contested as it goes through probate. Someone objects to its provisions and endeavors to overturn it in favor of another arrangement.

At the Shoreline, Washington, law firm, Hawkes Law Firm, our lawyers defend and prosecute will contests. Because of this aspect of our practice, we understand the importance of ensuring that any wills or trusts that we draft can withstand the scrutiny of a contest. When we believe there may be some doubt about the competency of the person, for example, we will video them to demonstrate their competence when they made the will.

Issues in Will Contests

Wills can be contested on a wide variety of grounds. Our law firm has handled will contests in which the plaintiffs charged:

  • Undue influence by a caregiver or relative
  • Lack of capacity to execute a will
  • The will probated was not the correct will
  • The language of the will is unclear
  • Fraud committed to influence the person making the will
  • Misconduct of person holding power of attorney

We represent proponents and defendants in will contests and inheritance disputes. When estate administration problems such as these arise, it is important to have an experienced attorney to help. Our litigation experience is very helpful these circumstances; many estate planning lawyers don’t litigate at all so they have no awareness of complex evidentiary and procedural issues that may be helpful or hurtful in a will contest.

 

Educating Our Clients About Their Options

We are known as caring advocates who provide people with all the information they need to make decisions about will contests. We counsel clients about the best course of action. In some instances, the best course of action may be to include someone who was wrongfully omitted from the will. It is almost never easy to overturn a will, even when everyone agrees that this is the best course of action. Our attorneys advise people about their options.

To learn how our lawyers can assist you with wills, trusts or probates, contact our Shoreline law firm by calling 206-367-5000.

Learn more about Probate & Will Contests