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Estate Planning

How Inheritance Works With and Without an Estate Plan in Washington State

By December 7, 2022No Comments

Nobody wants to think about what’s going to happen once they pass away. However, it’s crucial to plan for the future. Otherwise, things may not turn out as you plan, and you could end up causing turmoil for your family and friends.

Learn how inheritance works with and without an estate plan in Washington State, and then get started with your estate plan as soon as possible.

What Happens to an Inheritance Without an Estate Plan?

If you have no plan in place, then your assets will go to your closest relative in Washington State. If you have a spouse, they will go to your spouse. If you have no spouse, they will go to your children. If you have parents but no children or spouse, then your parents will receive your assets. If you have siblings but no children, spouse, or parents, then everything will go to your siblings.

Assets are going to go through the probate process, which is a time-consuming and expensive process that the state of Washington oversees. But if you designated beneficiaries on any of your accounts or have transfer on death deeds or registrations for your property, then they will not go through probate. It all depends on what kind of assets you have.

If you don’t designate anybody as your heir for your property, then the state is going to step in and take care of it. Surely, you don’t want that to happen. It could cause rifts among your loved ones. During the probate process – which is public – anybody can see the inheritance and try to claim it. What if someone ends up with your assets, but you never wanted them to have the inheritance? It’s just not worth it. That’s why you need to have an estate plan in place.

What Happens to an Inheritance With an Estate Plan?

If you have an estate plan, you can designate whom you want to receive your assets. With a trust, you can even avoid having to go through probate, which will save your loved ones ample time, energy, and money.

Many people choose to set up a revocable trust, which you can change at any time. So if your spouse passes away before you or your relationship with a loved one turns sour, you can change your beneficiaries.

An irrevocable trust comes in handy if you are in a profession that is susceptible to being sued, like medicine. Also, if you have creditors coming after you, they can’t touch what’s in your irrevocable trust. The main disadvantage is that you cannot change it once you set it up, which is hugely inconvenient for most people.

The best course of action to take is to get help from an estate planning attorney at this time. You can’t fill out DIY forms online and expect your estate plan to be in tip-top shape. In fact, you may not fill them out correctly, and this could have a negative impact on your loved ones. You won’t be able to do anything about it once you’re gone. Getting everything sorted ASAP is critical.

Get In Touch With an Estate Planning Attorney

If you want help with your estate plan in Washington, you should reach out to the estate planning attorneys at Legacy Law Group in Eastern Washington, Spokane Valley, and Spokane itself. Contact us at (509) 315-8087 today to get started.