Areas of Practice
People often avoid Estate Planning because they do not want to think about their mortality. However, having an estate plan of your own is crucial for the following reasons:
Making sure your minor children are cared for in the manner you desire, should
the unthinkable happen.
Allowing you to choose where and to whom your property goes after your death.
This is particularly important if you own a home or other forms a valuable
Allowing you to choose someone you trust to make decisions, according to your
wishes, concerning your health and finances in the event that you are no longer
able to do so.
In creating your Estate Plan, the Law Offices of Heather T. Kolbly,
P.C. considers your interests during your lifetime and afterward in a
comprehensive and caring manner. Tools used in your Estate Plan may include:
Powers of Attorney for health and financial affairs
Heirs, Beneficiaries, Testacy, Intestacy, Probate Administration, Personal
Representative, Letters Testamentary.... WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS
MEAN??? The Law Office of Heather T. Kolbly, P.C. can help you navigate the
often confusing and overwhelming waters of the probate process.
What is Probate? Probate is the process of settling the
affairs of a deceased person and transferring title of property to his or her
heirs. This process is done under the supervision of the court. Washington
State is known for having one of the simplest and least expensive probate
systems in the United States. For more information on Probate, contact the Law
Office of Heather T. Kolbly, P.C. for a consultation.
When is Probate necessary? In Washington State, probate is not
necessary after a person dies. However, probate is often filed after the death
of a person who owns real property or who owns personal property valued over
Why should I have a Will if my estate would be probated whether I am
intestate or not? Your Will is your final word after you have
passed away.Having your wishes stated in a well-drafted Will
at your death will make the administration and distribution of your property
run more smoothly and significantly help avoid potential disputes over your
wishes. This is of even greater importance if you have children or pets to be
cared for after your death. With a Will, probate is often a shorter process,
and thus less costly, than probate of an intestate estate.
If you die without a Will (intestacy), your heirs and the court will be left to
try to determine who will care for your children and pets and what your wishes
were concerning distribution of property, among other things. While the process
of property distribution is governed by state law, it can take a longer period
of time and be more complicated than probate of a testamentary estate (an
estate with a Will), thus resulting in higher costs to the estate and more time
spent by personal representatives, the court, and attorneys in their attempts
to determine what property you owned, what bills need to be paid, and your
wishes for the care of your children and pets. Dying without a Will also
creates a higher potential for disputes over your children or property because
your wishes are not in writing, and thus may be seen as unclear. Such disputes
can lead to higher costs to your estate and extra time and anguish for all
people involved over reaching a solution.
Is there any way to avoid Probate? Probate may be avoided by
placing your property a living trust, or by proper use of joint tenancy or a
community property agreement. To learn more about living trusts, joint tenancy,
and community property agreements, contact the Law Offices of Heather T.
Kolbly, P.C. for a consultation.
The Law Offices of Heather T. Kolbly, P.C. drafts and reviews many types of
contractual agreements, including, but not limited to:
Prenuptial Agreements: These contracts are between prospective
spouses who wish to keep certain property separate during marriage and/or
delineate what property each spouse will retain or receive in case of a future
divorce. If you would like a prenuptial agreement drafted, it is recommended
that you seek legal assistance in this matter at least two months prior to your
Postnuptial Agreements: These contracts are generally the same
as prenuptial agreements, but they are executed during marriage.
Lease Agreements: Leases, both residential and commercial, are
an important way of delineating the rights and duties of landlords and tenants.For
landlords, having an attorney draft your lease helps ensure that it is done
properly and in a manner that will minimize the potential for future claims of
unfairness by tenants, and to ensure that your rights are protected. For
tenants, it is highly desirable to have an attorney review a lease before you
enter it in order to ensure that you understand the terms of the agreement and
that your rights are protected.
Business Contracts: The Law Offices of Heather T. Kolbly, P.C.
drafts and reviews a number of business-related contracts, whether you are
starting a business, dissolving one or changing your current business
contracts. No matter what type of business contract you need, it is important
to have an attorney draft and/or review it to make sure your rights are
protected that the terms are commensurate with the current laws and
Settlement Agreements: These agreements are used to settle
disputes between parties and should be drafted carefully to protect the
parties' rights and designate the duties of each party. Negotiation with
opposing counsel or an opposing party is often desired, if not necessary, in
determining the terms of such an agreement.
If you have questions related to any form of contract, please to contact the
Law Offices of Heather T. Kolbly, P.C. for assistance.
Arranging care for our pets after we die or become incapacitated --
To many of us, pets are part of our family, whether they are cats, dogs, birds,
lizards, snakes, fish, or larger animals such as horses. We shower them with
love and affection, play with them, and find them to be a source of laughter
and happiness in our lives.
But what happens to our pets when we die or become disabled and unable to care
for them? Many people expect that a family member or friend will step up and
offer to provide a home for the pet. However, without a specific directive in a
will or a pet trust, this often does not happen. Instead, the pets end up at
the humane society, euthanized, or let out on their own to fend for themselves.
How can you avoid such a fate happening to your beloved pet? Here are some
Pet Trust: Washington State law recognizes and validates
trusts established for the care of certain animals (see RCW11.118). Under the
terms of a pet trust, a trustee of your choice disburses funds as needed for
the care of your pet, including veterinary care, feeding and grooming.
How much money should I place in my pet trust? In determining
the amount of funds to place in trust for your pet, the yearly cost of caring
for your pet should be considered: think about vet bills and the cost of food,
grooming, housing, and toys for your pet. You need not be wealthy to have a pet
trust created, but you should place enough funds in the trust to adequately
care for your pet for its expected lifespan.
What if my pet dies before the trust funds are expended? If
the pet dies before the trust funds are completely expended, any remaining sums
may be distributed according to your wishes in the trust instrument.
Who cares for my pet if I can't? You should designate a
caretaker and a few alternates (in case your first choice is unable to take on
the responsibility) for your pet in the trust instrument. Such designees should
be people you trust, who like animals, and who are able and willing to care for
your pet. If you do not have any trusted relatives or friends who are willing
or able to take on this responsibility at the time of your death or incapacity,
you may name a professional pet caretaking facility.
Your Will: While animals cannot be designated as beneficiaries
in a will, you can designate a caretaker for your pet in your will. As with the
pet trust, it is advisable to designate a few alternate caretakers in the event
that your first choice is unable to take on the responsibility for some reason.
You may also bequeath a portion of your estate to the caretaker for the purpose
of caring for your pet.
Pet cruelty and animal injury -
If your pet is injured or killed due to negligent or intentional conduct of
another person or organization (such as a veterinary clinic, boarding facility
or airline), you may be able to recover damages for the loss of your pet.
What types of damages are possible in cases of animal injury or death?
Damages may include the market value of the animal, the intrinsic value of the
animal (such as the loss of companionship, protection, or special skills of the
pet in the case of seeing-eye dogs and similar types of pets), and, in certain
circumstances, emotional distress damages for the pet owner.
Whether you need help in planning for the care of your pet after your death or
disability, or your pet has been injured or killed at the hands of another, the
Law Office of Heather T. Kolbly, P.C. can give you honest, thorough, and
personalized assistance and advice.