Preparing for one’s one death can feel challenging to grabble with, but properly preparing your estate will help your loved ones navigate your passing without the added burden of determining what your wishes would have been.

How and when you prepare your estate may differ based on your age. For example, young parents may create a will to help determine custody of their newborn child. People in their 60’s and 70’s may plan their estate to determine who will get their house and inherit any money they have.

Regardless of when you’re preparing your estate, there are some things you should determine first to help make the process easy.

What Is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is more than just creating a will. Estate planning does include what happens to your property and money after you die. But a more in-depth estate plan can include who would have custody of any children under the age of 18 years old, handling your taxes, what you’d like your end of life care to be, if you want your body to be cremated or buried, and what the preferred details of your funeral or memorial service are. [1].

What Should I Do First When Preparing My Estate In Washington State?

The first thing you want to do when creating a will or estate plan is appoint an executor. An executor will be the person executing your wishes after you pass.

Then, if you have young children, you will want to discuss with other adult loved ones who would care for your children if you die. This will ensure your children have a place to go if you die and avoid foster care.

Next, you’ll want to decide what happens to your property. The tools for declaring your wishes are wills and living trusts. Wills are the most common choice, as they are simpler and less expensive [1]. However, living trusts can assign beneficiaries, reduce inheritance taxes, and avoids putting the property through court probate [1].

Another thing you’ll want to do quickly is if you have a long-term partner that you’re not legally married to, a will can also protect them if you die. Legally, spouses have the right to make medical decisions for their partners when they are not able to. A will can give your partner this right and the right to any life insurance money [2]. This is something you might want to address sooner rather than later because of how the law works in regard to unmarried partners.

What Parts Of Estate Planning Can Wait?

Most millennials have thousands of digital assets online from social media accounts to videos. In your estate plan, you can designate a digital executor to run those accounts after you die [2]. While this may be more important to some, in general, this is something you can deal with after you’ve taken care of your children, partner, and property in your estate plan.

How Can I Start Estate Planning In Washington State?

Estate planning is for everyone. You can start estate planning at any time and update your will or living trust if you have any big life changes. The best way to create a clear, concise, and legally upholdable estate plan is by reaching out to the esteemed lawyers at Priest Family Law. Our team can help you create an estate plan that is right for you and your family. A good estate plan will give you and your loved one’s peace of mind.

[1] Simmons Hannibal, Betsy. “What Is Estate Planning?” Nolo. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/what-is-estate-planning.html

[2] Keene, Valerie. “Estate Planning For Millennials.” Nolo. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/estate-planning-for-millennials.html