Law Office of Kenneth V. Hoffman

Prompt and professional legal service at reasonable rates.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

ESTATE PLANNING:

 

Do I need to update my Will or Revocable Living Trust?

 

In the past three years, Congress has enacted new estate tax laws and so a review of your situation is important.

 

Other changes often occur in a person’s life which call for revising Wills and Trusts.  Examples of such changes are marriage, divorce, new birth, death of a family member, acquiring new assets, or simply rethinking what you want to leave and to whom.

 

If you think your plan needs to be reviewed, and are looking for an experienced attorney in Vancouver, Washington, call our office to schedule an appointment.

 

Do I need a Community Property Agreement since Washington is a Community Property state?

 

Although Washington is a Community Property state, the transfer of assets from one spouse to another is not automatic.  Although living in Washington, spouses may still have “Separate Property”, such as assets they owned before the marriage, or gifts or inheritances received during the marriage.

 

A Community Property Agreement can clarify that all property owned by the married couple is their community and should pass to the survivor of the two of them.  At the death of the first spouse, a probate is not necessary.  The estate transfer is effected by having the Community Property Agreement, and an accompanying Affidavit, recorded with the county auditor.

 

Do I need to have a Power of Attorney?

 

A Power of Attorney is recommended so you can choose the person you most trust to handle your finances and make medical decisions for you if you are ever incapacitated.  By signing a Power of Attorney before you are incapacitated, you avoid the need for a Court appointed Guardian, which can be an expensive and complicated legal proceeding.

  

                                                          PROBATE:

 

What is probate?

 

Probate is a legal proceeding which supervises the administration of an estate.  A Personal Representative is appointed to pay the decedent’s bills, and then distribute the remaining assets according to the terms of the Will.  If the decedent died without a Will, there are laws which govern who the estate shall pass to.

 

How long does the probate process take?

 

A probate takes as long as necessary to settle a decedent’s affairs.  Sales of property, disagreements among heirs and IRS audits can delay closing for months, or even years.  At a minimum, there is a four month waiting period that begins after publication of a Notice to Creditors.  If there are no complications, the estate can be distributed and closed after the four months have passed.

 

What are the duties of a Personal Representative?

 

Once the Personal Representative is appointed by the Court, they have all the rights of the decedent, had the decedent lived.  It is the Personal Representative’s duty to locate and protect everything the decedent had owned, pay all creditors and taxes, and distribute the assets to the heirs according to the decedent’s Will, or by law if there was no Will.

 

                                                SMALL BUSINESS:

 

How do I decide whether I should incorporate my small business, or form a Limited Liability Company?

 

Operating your small business as an entity other than as sole proprietor can have benefits, protection and potential tax savings for you.  The advantage to choosing one business entity over another depends on several factors.  Consult with your tax professional, and a business attorney, to make the right decision for your small business.

 

We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and help you formulate the best strategy for your small business.  Call today to schedule an appointment.