About Wills

Driven Lawyers for Will Preparation in the Tri-Cities Area

Many adults have yet to write a valid Will. The importance of writing a Will should never be underestimated. If you pass without a Will, your family can undergo unnecessary problems together with the stress of bereavement. Wills protect families according to the wishes of the deceased. There are many misconceptions surrounding the writing of a Will, and we hope the following information will help to clear up some of these misconceptions.

Hames, Anderson, Whitlow & O’Leary, P.S., are Tri-Cities attorneys you can trust. We are committed to aggressive and efficient representation of clients in all legal matters; including the preparation of their Wills.

Call Now at 509-586-7797

Once the person who makes a Will has passed, a probate court will determine the validity and authenticity of that Will. The court will also make judgments regarding the administration and distribution of the Will. Hames, Anderson, Whitlow & O’Leary, P.S., are probate attorneys able to provide legal assistance throughout this process.

Common Misconceptions about Wills

A common misconception is that if you are not rich then you do not need a Will. Wills are not exclusively for wealthy people. The car you own, your home, and a couple of insurance policies can amount to more than you think.

Other people believe that they are simply too young to write a Will. Every adult should have a Will because accidents can occur at any age. With a Will, you will have that peace of mind that your spouse and children will be protected and your possessions will be properly handled.

Other people believe that they only need to write a Will once, and it’s done. However, Wills need to be reviewed on a regular basis. Life happens, and long the way – important changes can happen that will affect what you want in your Will. For example, divorce or marriage should prompt significant changes to a Will, or even the drawing up of a new Will altogether. Additionally, if some beneficiaries pass on, or you have additional children, etc., changes will need to be made.

Finally, many people believe that they can write a valid Will on their own. Will writing in Kennewick, Richland, and Pasco is a very sensitive affair that must be done with great caution. Not knowing the legal implications of the use of certain language can lead to a variety of problems after death.

Facts about Wills

Wills can be contested if they do not include the necessary components that are required by law. Because of this, you really should seek legal counsel when writing your Will. An inadequate, or invalid Will can turn out to be a huge burden to beneficiaries. The absolute minimum requirements for making a valid Will in Washington include:

  • The document must be in writing
  • The person making the Will must sign the document (or direct someone to sign it in his or her presence) in front of two competent witnesses
  • The witnesses must also sign the document (or a notarized affidavit)
  • The person must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind at the time he or she makes the Will

Second, it’s important to note that there are different forms of assets that may be disposed of through a Will. Of course, bank accounts and money are always a priority.  However, other things such as personal property – like furniture, jewelry and clothing – can also be included in the Will.

Finally, Wills are not just written to allocate items that have monetary value. A Will is also important when distributing things that have sentimental value to you and members of your family. Who will take care of your pets? Who will take care of your children and administer funds for them upon your death? A well-written Will can solve all of these issues.

What Happens if I Die without a Will?

If you die before you execute a valid Will, your estate will be distributed according to Washington’s laws of intestate succession. That’s a fancy legal term that refers to a process that can be very complicated.

And the most unfortunate part of leaving it to the State, is that the default laws rarely result in the deceased person’s affairs being managed the way they would have wanted. Indeed, intestate succession often leads to unjust and unexpected outcomes that can leave your loved ones in shock. Subsequently – hardship, hurt feelings, frustration, and even anger among the family members – is not uncommon.

That’s why it’s so important to create a valid Will as soon as possible.

What’s the Difference Between a Will and an Estate Plan?

Your Will is only one of several documents that collectively comprise your Estate Plan.

Think of your Estate Plan as your family’s “Ultimate Guide to Handling My Affairs When I’m Sick or Incapacitated, or After I Pass Away.” The documents in an Estate Plan direct your loved ones — and also doctors, care providers, and courts — on how to care for you in emergency situations (and how to dispose of your assets after you pass away).

In addition to the Will, an Estate Plan might also consist of:

  • Trusts — Living Trusts and other kinds of Trusts can give you greater control over your assets and can also spare your family the burden of probate.
  • Living Will — Do you want to be kept on life support? This document answers that question (and other questions related to life-preserving care) in advance.  
  • Power of Attorney — Decide who will make your legal and financial decisions for you if you become incapacitated.
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney– Decide who will make your medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated.

While none of these documents are required by law, they are almost certainly worth your while. Every estate plan is different, so it’s a good idea to talk with a Tri-Cities Wills lawyer to learn which documents make sense for you.

“I Can’t Afford an Estate Planning Lawyer. Do I Really Need One?”

Hiring an attorney to prepare your Will and/or Estate Plan isn’t as expensive as you might think. In fact, for most people, we can set up an effective Will with just a meeting or two — usually in less than a day.

But setting up a Will on your own is never a wise idea. Washington estate law is complex, and it’s very easy to make mistakes. Those mistakes can have long-lasting consequences that you are completely unaware of.  You may then pass on thinking you have everything nicely organized with no loose ends – when exactly the opposite is true.  Unbeknownst to you – if you make your Will on your own with no legal help – the Courts can and likely will interpret what you have written in a way that you did not intend!

Even using automated online forms or software to generate your Will can create unfortunate situations. You won’t know it at the time, but you could very likely leave your loved ones with a big  mess.

Therefore, it is in you and your family’s best interest to contact an experienced Tri-Cities Wills attorney. It can be a short and sweet process, and we can find an affordable option that will give you and your loved ones peace of mind.

Take Your Next Steps Today. Contact our Diligent Wills Attorneys.

At Hames, Anderson, Whitlow & O’Leary, P.S., we’re here to help! We are committed to providing quality legal services to individuals, businesses and institutions. All of our clients receive personal attention from our attorneys and from our experienced and dedicated staff. We strive to represent each client in a way that will match their goals and resources.

Call Now at 509-586-7797

We are Tri-Cities attorneys that practice in all courts and before most agencies in the states of Washington and Oregon including Richland, Pasco, Kennewick, Hermiston, Benton City, Prosser, Grandview, Sunnyside, Finley, Burbank, Walla Walla, Desert Aire, Mattawa, and Othello.