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Elder law attorneys help families prepare for the future by assisting with retirement benefits, long-term care planning, wills, trusts, and more. Your elder law attorney can help you create an estate plan that protects you today and in the future.

It’s never too early to start estate planning. However, there are two deadlines to keep in mind.

First, if you have children, you should not wait any longer. You need an estate plan to designate a guardian for your minor children. Otherwise, your kids will end up in court if you and the other parent pass away.

Second, if you are 60 years of age or older, you should immediately visit a Vancouver estate planning attorney. You need to begin thinking about long-term care and more at this stage in your life.

“Dying intestate” is the phrase used to describe passing away without a will. When this happens, the person’s property is distributed based on the laws of intestate succession. It goes to the person’s closest relatives, even if that isn’t what they wanted. Fortunately, you can avoid this problem by creating a valid will.

You can set up a trust and designate beneficiaries for your property. However, simply having a trust isn’t enough. You’ll need to have a pour-over will to complement your trust. The pour-over will’s job is to transfer property that you forgot to put into the trust. When you pass away, the property in the pour-over will go through probate. Then, it will transfer to the trust.

If you have a child with special needs, you want to ensure he or she has enough money to pay for what’s needed. At the same time, you need to ensure your child doesn’t go over the resource limit if he or she receives needs-based benefits. Your estate planning attorney can create a special needs trust for your child. The trust can supplement benefits without increasing your child’s resource limit.

Yes, people with valid claims can contest wills in Washington. Contact an attorney to file a legal claim if you believe that the creator was mentally incompetent, unduly influenced, deceived, or forced to create a will.

Your estate planning attorney can create a pet trust to ensure your pets are cared for when you pass away. You also have the option of using your will to designate a caregiver for your pet. Then, you can name that person as a beneficiary and leave money for the pet’s care. Keep in mind that your chosen caregiver might not be available, so it’s wise to choose at least two backup options.

Your personal representative must be a legal adult and of sound mind. Also, the person must not have a criminal record that includes felony convictions. If you want to choose someone with a felony conviction, he or she will have to get it expunged first.

Most Washington residents cannot afford private pay for long-term care. Fortunately, you can use long-term care insurance or Medicaid planning to pay for care. Even if you have lots of assets, you might qualify for Medicaid by setting up trusts or using other strategies. However, you need to start planning more than five years before you need long-term care. Medicaid has a five-year look-back period, meaning all assets transferred within the last five years are still part of your estate. Once five years pass, those assets won’t go toward your resource limit.

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