Does Washington State Recognize Tenancy By The Entirety?

Does Washington State Recognize Tenancy By The Entirety?

When you buy a home with your spouse, you may not be aware that the way your ownership is titled can affect what happens to your property if one of you should pass away or if you choose to get a divorce.  There are five different ways your ownership can be titled; Sole Ownership, Tenants in Common, Joint Tenancy, Tenancy by the Entirety, and Community Property. Each of these has specific ways your property will be handled upon your death or divorce. 

In this article, we are going to look at whether Washington State recognizes Tenancy by the Entirety.

Types of Ownership Between Two People

There are three kinds of ownership by two or more people, including Tenancy by the Entirety. The other two are Joint Tenancy and Tenancy in common. The biggest difference between the three is that with tenancy by the entirety the tenant cannot sell or gift the property without the other tenant’s consent. If one tenant were to pass away, the other would get survivorship. Tenants in common do not have this right of survivorship.  Joint tenants do have the right to survivorship, but they also have the option to either sell or give away their interest in the property.

What Tenancy of the Entirety Means

Tenancy by the Entirety means that a husband and wife (in some states same-sex couples) own an equal share of the real estate and cannot sell their share without the permission of the other spouse. It is also coupled with the Right of Survivorship so that upon the death of one, the survivor is entitled to the decedent’s share.

Disadvantages of Tenancy by the Entirety

Some obstacles to Tenancy by the Entirety: If you decide to get a divorce, the property could no longer be subdivided. The title will automatically be changed to a Tenancy in Common.

In short, this means that either tenant could then transfer ownership to anyone they wish.  You can probably see where several troubles could arise from a situation like this.

Tenancy by the Entirety in Washington State

In Washington State, tenancy by the entirety is not recognized. The most common titles for property ownership are:

  • Single Individual: Not married or in a legal partnership
  • Separate Property: A married person who individually holds the title without a spouse
  • Community Property: Property that is acquired after marriage or legal partnership
  • Tenancy-In-Common: Two or more people whose interest is in the property who are not married or partnered. The interest of each tenant would be passed down though heir
  • Joint Tenancy: Two or more people with an equal interest in the property. When one tenant passes, the property interest is automatically passed on to the other tenant(s)

Connect With An Estate Planning Attorney in Washington State

If you are unsure what the title of ownership is on your property or what it means, it can impact how you plan to pass on your property after your death.  This is clearly a critical issue for estate planning!

Contact Lilac City Law today, and we’ll work with you to make sense of all this.

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Setting up a Durable Power of Attorney in Washington State

Setting up a Durable Power of Attorney in Washington State

Setting up a Durable Power of Attorney in Washington State is pretty straightforward.

In this article is a brief description of what a Durable Power of Attorney actually is, as well as some specific rules that you must follow to set up a durable power of attorney in Washington State.

Durable Power of Attorney (POA) Explained

A durable power of attorney allows you to choose someone to handle your medical and financial needs.  It remains valid and in effect, if you become incapacitated and ends when you die or otherwise end the POA.  There are two types of durable power of attorneys.

Durable Power of Attorney for healthcare: The durable power of attorney for health care gives your designated agent the authority to make healthcare decisions on your behalf.

Durable Power of Attorney for finances: The durable power of attorney for finances gives your designated person the authority to make financial decisions on your behalf.

You can choose a person (known as your agent) to handle both the durable power of attorney for healthcare and the durable power of attorney for finances.  You may also choose different agents for each as long as they can work together (separate adult children for example).

For both powers of attorney, you also plan on an alternate agent.  This alternate agent would step in if the original person is unable to make decisions.

Powers of a Durable Power of Attorney in Washington State

A durable power of attorney in Washington state authorizes an agent to do the following on your behalf:

  • Make health care decisions for you
    • If you would like to have life-sustaining procedures withheld or withdrawn in the case of a terminal illness, you may also want to create a living will or advance directive to go along with your Power of Attorney.
  • Buy or sell items for you
  • Manage your business
  • Collect Debts
  • Invest money
  • Cash checks
  • Manage financial matters

Regulations for Washington State

There is no specific form you need to use for your POA for Washington State.  The only regulation is that the form or statement you use is notarized by a certified notary republic.  Most banks have a notary republic and are sometimes free if you are a customer.

After you and your agent(s) sign the documents in front of a notary, you want to make two copies.  The original will go to your agent, one copy will go to your alternate agent, and you will keep a copy for yourself.

Who Can Set up A Durable Power of Attorney in Washington State?

The following people can set up a durable power of attorney:

Estate planning attorneyYou can use an estate planning attorney but do not have to by law. An attorney, like Lilac City Law, will customize your POA as part of your estate plan.

Loved one or trusted friend: Make sure you discuss with them what you want so that they can help you fill out the required paperwork accordingly.

Yourself: It is very important that you understand all decisions that you are making and what affects they will have before signing a legal document.  Be sure to choose a trusted person to act as your agent.  Most importantly, make sure they are willing to act as your agent.

We strongly suggest the first option above!   If you need assistance with your durable power of attorney, call our office today!

Contact Us, We’ll Help You Set Up Your Power of Attorney

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What Legal Documents Do I Need for my Estate Plan?

What Legal Documents Do I Need for my Estate Plan?

When setting up an estate plan, you may find yourself needing to find a lot of different documents. If you are using an estate planning attorney, you might find yourself asking, “What legal documents do I need?”  And more to the point, “what do I need to prepare these documents?”

To help you, we have compiled a list of documents you are going to need for each part of the estate planning process. 

Not everyone will need each part so don’t worry if you see something that you are not doing.  Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. 

Living Will

A living will is also known as an advance care directive.  A living will is only valid while you are alive.  It states your wishes for end of life medical care in case you are unable to communicate your decisions.  You can set up the living will to take effect either as soon as it is signed or it can be set up to only begin as soon as you are unable to communicate your wishes.  The requirements for a living will vary from state to state, so your best option is to hire an estate planning attorney to help you.  Legal documents you will need for your living will are:

  • Beneficiary informationLegal names, Contact information, Social Security, and Birth Certificate/adoption papers (for minor children).
  • Asset InformationCopy of the deed for your house or other real estate, titles for all vehicles, bank statements, retirement paperwork, paperwork related to investments, and any paperwork from an appraiser if you have any valuable personal property you want to be left to a specific beneficiary.
  • Debt Informationdocuments relating to your mortgage, car loans, student loans, and consumer debt.
  • Executor and Guardian InformationNames and contact information for anyone you name an executor or guardian.

Durable Power of Attorney for Finances

A Durable Power of Attorney for Finances allows you to name a trusted person to be able to make decisions about your finances should you become incapacitated.  If you do not have a Durable Power of Attorney for finances, then your loved ones will have to go to court and ask for the ability to make financial decisions.  Legal documents you will need for your living will are:

  • Durable Power of Attorney FormMust be filled out, signed, and notarized (for Washington state, requirements vary from state to state).
  • Attorney-in-fact contact informationContact information and legal name(s) for anyone you name to make decisions for you.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care allows you to name someone to make health care decisions for you should you become incapacitated. It also allows you to voice what you want if you become incapacitated. Legal documents you will need for your living will are:

  • Durable Power of Attorney FormMust be filled out, signed, and notarized (for Washington state, requirements vary from state to state).
  • Attorney-in-fact contact informationContact information and legal name(s) for anyone you name to make decisions for you.

Last Will and Testament

You last will and testament is a legal document that allows you to say how your estate will be distributed after you die.  It will also allow you to name a guardian for your minor children if you have any and also what will happen to your pets. Legal documents you will need for your living will are:

  • Family DocumentsPrenuptial agreements, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, existing will and trust documents if you have them, adoption certificates (if applicable), and findings of your disability or of family members.
  • Business documents Partnership agreements, trade name registrations, and documents files to establish a corporation.
  • Real Estate DocumentsDeeds, real estate trust documents, and deeds of life estates or leases.
  • Account StatementsBank, retirement, and investment accounts.

Living Trust

There are two types of living trusts; Revocable (can be changed) and Irrevocable (cannot be changed).  Unlike a will, a living trust will ensure that property left through the trust will not have to go into probate.  When it goes through probate, it can take months to be settled and sometimes cost as much as 5% of the assets to pay for lawyers.  Not everyone has to be concerned about probate, and some people may not need a trust at all.  You can speak with an estate planning attorney to find out if you need a living trust.  Legal documents you will need for your living will are:

  • Beneficiary informationLegal names, Contact information, Social Security, and Birth Certificate/adoption papers (for minor children).
  • Asset InformationCopy of the deed for your house or other real estate, titles for all vehicles, bank statements, retirement paperwork, paperwork related to investments, and any paperwork from an appraiser if you have any valuable personal property you want to be left to a specific beneficiary. You only need documents for the property you will be putting into the living trust.
Finish Your Plan!  Contact an Estate Planning Attorney Today…

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How to Appeal A Denial for Social Security Disability in Washington State

How to Appeal A Denial for Social Security Disability in Washington State

Applying for Social Security in Washington State can be an overwhelming process. 

If you are one of the greater than 70% of those who are initially denied your claim, it can be devastating, and your path to getting the benefits you have earned can be hard to see. 

What should you do?  Who can help you? This article was written to give you some clarity.

The first step is calm down, take a deep breath, and if needed contact a disability professional to help you. 

The first thing to know is that your denial letter should explain why you were denied and give you a list of the places social security requested and received medical evidence.  It is very common to read through these letters and be confused and frustrated.  Clearly the Social Security Administration missed the mark somewhere; otherwise, you would not even be reading this article.  Nevertheless – you should familiarize yourself with their statements and prepare yourself for your appeal options.  

Here are your four appeal levels for Social Security in Washington State.

Request for Reconsideration

With your denial letter in hand, you now have 60 days (plus five days for mailing) from the date you received your denial notice to complete a request for reconsideration form and return it to the Social Security address listed in your letter.  You can do this either by mail or by dropping it off at your local Social Security office.   Here is a handy tool to locate Social Security offices in Washington State.

If you were denied because the Social Security Administration did not determine you to be disabled, ask to see what medical evidence they have in your file. When filing your request for reconsideration, you should seek to include as much of the following as possible with your request for reconsideration form:

  • Letter from your doctor stating why he believes you are disabled
  • Letter from friends or family stating how your disability has affected your day to day activities
  • Additional medical evidence that was not originally included in your claim

You do not need to be present for the reconsideration.

And remember, if you are denied because Social Security believes you no longer have a disability, you do have the option to meet with a Washington State Social Security representative to explain you still have a disability.

Talk About Your Social Security Denial With A Disability Lawyer Today

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Disability Hearing

If your request for reconsideration is denied, then you can request a hearing before an administrative law judge.

Typically, the time between your request and the hearing is 1-2 years, though this timeline can vary widely depending on where you live.  In Spokane, WA – the timeline for disability hearings was 487 days as of the date this article was written.  It is important for you to attend the hearing and bring your representative (if you have one).

Other witnesses, such as medical or vocational experts will likely testify for Social Security.  You or your attorney representative will be able to ask them questions during the hearing and make a strong case for your disability is a barrier to employability.

After the hearing, the judge will make a decision, and you will receive a letter and copy of the decision.

Review by the Appeals Council

If you disagree with the decision made by the judge on your appeal, you can ask for the decision on your claim to be reviewed by the Appeals Council.  At this point, if you have not used a Social Security Disability attorney, it is necessary to start consulting with one.

In short, the Appeals Council will look at your request and decide if they agree with the hearing decision – the decision of the judge based on the evidence provided.

If they believe the ALJ (administrative law judge) decision was correct, then the judge’s decision will be upheld.

If the appeals council believes there was an error in the ALJ’s decision, they may remand your claim back to another administrative law judge for another appeals hearing.

And, rarely, but it does happen – the Appeals Council will overturn a denied claim if they believe the judge’s decision was completely in error. This action would result in an approved disability claim.

Here is data on the Appeals Council Requests for Review so you can get an idea of their backlog.

Federal Court Review

If you do not agree with the Appeals Council, you can file a lawsuit in the Federal District Court.  In the letter sent to you about the Appeals Council decision, you will find information on how to file with the federal court.  You will need an attorney at this point, in any case.  They should be aware of the process of filing a federal district court lawsuit.

Who Can Help Create a Durable Power of Attorney in WA State

Who Can Help Create a Durable Power of Attorney in WA State

Most of us do not like to think about it, but what happens if we are unable to make our own decisions regarding our health and finances? Who is going to make those decisions for us? Are the decisions being made what we would decide if we could? Having a durable power of attorney in Washington state is the best way to ensure decisions are being made the way you would want them to be.

What is a Durable Power of Attorney?

A durable power of attorney (DPOA) is a legally binding document naming an individual or individuals (called an agent) to make health care, financial, and end-of-life decisions for another person. All adults should have one of these in the event there is an accident or sudden death.

A durable power of attorney in Washington state authorizes an agent to:

  • Make health care decisions for you or your minor children
    • If you would like to have life-sustaining procedures withheld or withdrawn in the case of a terminal illness, you may also want to create a living will or advance directive to go along with your Power of Attorney.
  • Buy or sell items for you
  • Manage your business
  • Collect Debts
  • Invest money
  • Cash checks
  • Manage financial matters
  • Sue on behalf of the principal

You do not have to include all above items. You can personalize your durable power of attorney to fit what you need or want in the event someone needs to make decisions for you. Limiting it to just being able to sign on your behalf if you become unable is an example of that. Your agent can not, however, act on your behalf after you die. A durable power of attorney is not a substitute for a will and will terminate upon your death or on a specific date if you so choose.

A durable power of attorney in Washington State must be notarized. After it is notarized, you want to give the original to your agent(s) and keep a copy for yourself.

Who Can Help Create a Durable Power of Attorney in WA state?

The fact that a durable power of attorney is a legal document may make some people shy away from creating one because they think that it will be difficult. You can get help to create a durable power of attorney in Washington State.

Estate Planning Attorney

You can use an estate planning attorney but do not have to by law. Using a legal professional can simplify the process and answer any questions you may have. It is very important that you understand all decisions that you are making and what affects they will have before signing a legal document. An attorney can also make your DPOA individualized. There are forms on the internet that can be printed, but they are very broad.

Loved One or Trusted Friend

Having a family member help you create a durable power of attorney is another option. Make sure you discuss with them what you want so that they can help you fill out the required paperwork accordingly. If the person helping you is going to be your agent, make sure they agree to your wishes before asking them.

Yourself

If you feel comfortable enough, you can fill out your own DPOA without help. Make sure you understand the document and what it is asking. Be sure to choose a trusted person to act as your agent. Most importantly, make sure they are willing to act as your agent.

Having durable power of attorney is an important step in your future. It can be hard emotionally and mentally fill out. Remember, if you do not feel comfortable doing it yourself you can contact an attorney to help you.

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