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Wills
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Tacoma Wills Lawyer

Creating & Updating Wills for Clients in Tacoma & Surrounding Areas

A will is one of the most basic and important estate planning documents. It is a legal document that specifies how a person's property and assets will be distributed upon their death. A will can also include instructions for the care of minor children, as well as the designation of a guardian. It is not necessary to have a great deal of wealth or property to benefit from having a will. Even individuals with modest assets can benefit from having a will.

At McCarthy Law Office, PLLC, we have more than 20 years of experience helping clients with their estate planning needs. Our Tacoma wills attorney can assist you with drafting a will that meets all of your needs and goals. We can also help you update an existing will as your circumstances change.

To learn more about how we can assist you, call our Tacoma wills attorney at (844) 224-5029 or contact us online today.

What Can a Will Do?

A will can be used to distribute property and assets in a variety of ways. It can also be used to specify what will happen to a person's property and assets if certain conditions are met.

Here are a few examples of what a will can do:

  • It can be used to leave assets to a specific individual or organization, such as a charity
  • It can be used to create a trust for a minor child
  • It can be used to specify how a person's assets will be split among their children
  • It can be used to disinherit a specific person

A will is also the only legal document in which you can name a guardian for your minor children. If you have minor children, this is an important reason to have a will. A will can also be used to name an executor for your estate. This is the person who will be in charge of handling your affairs after your death.

What Are the Requirements For Making a Will in Washington State?

Washington State has specific requirements for a will to be legally valid. If these requirements are not met, a will may be declared invalid and the estate may be distributed by the state of Washington.

A will in Washington State must meet the following requirements:

  • It must be in writing
  • It must be signed by the person making the will (the testator) or someone doing so in the testator's name and in their presence
  • The signature must be witnessed by at least two competent witnesses who also sign the will

A will can be made in Washington State by a person who is at least 18 years old and of sound mind. A will can be changed or revoked at any time. If you make a new will, your old will is automatically revoked.

A will does not need to be notarized in Washington State. However, a notarized will that is out-of-state is considered a "self-proving will" and can be admitted to probate without the testimony of the witnesses.

Why Do I Need a Will?

Many people assume that if they die without a will, their assets will be distributed to their family as they would have wanted. However, this is not always the case.

Here are a few reasons why you should have a will:

  • It ensures that your assets go to the people you want them to go to
  • It can help avoid family disputes and legal battles
  • It can help reduce the estate tax burden on your family
  • It can help your family avoid the long and costly probate process
  • It can be used to name a guardian for your minor children
  • It can be used to leave money to a charity or organization you support

A will is a simple and affordable way to make sure your assets are distributed according to your wishes and that your family is taken care of.

How Often Should I Update My Will?

You should review your will every three to five years, especially if there have been any significant changes in your life.

Here are a few examples of when you should update your will:

  • You have gotten married or divorced
  • You have had a child or adopted a child
  • You have moved to a different state
  • You have acquired new property or assets
  • You have started a new business
  • You have had a significant change in your financial situation
  • You have had a significant change in your relationship with a family member

If you have only minor changes to make to your will, you can make a codicil. This is a separate legal document that is used to make changes to a will. A codicil must be signed and witnessed just like a will. However, if you have many changes to make, it may be easier to simply create a new will.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Make a Will?

It is not legally required to have a lawyer assist you with drafting a will. However, it is highly recommended. A will is a legal document that must meet certain requirements to be legally valid.

Here are a few reasons why you should hire a lawyer to help you make a will:

  • It ensures that your will is legally valid
  • It helps you avoid making mistakes that could lead to a will contest
  • It ensures that your will meets all of your needs and goals
  • It helps you make sure that your will is properly executed
  • It provides you with peace of mind

A lawyer can also help you with other estate planning documents, such as a living will, a durable power of attorney, and a health care directive. These documents can help ensure that your wishes are carried out if you become incapacitated.

The Process of Creating a Will

This may include:

Initial Consultation

The first step is an initial consultation to discuss your goals and understand your unique circumstances. During this meeting, key topics will include:

  • Assets and Liabilities: A thorough review of your assets, liabilities, and overall estate value.
  • Beneficiaries: Identifying who you want to inherit your assets and in what proportions.
  • Guardianship: If you have minor children, deciding who will be their legal guardian.
  • Executors: Choosing the person who will manage your estate and ensure your wishes are fulfilled.
  • Special Provisions: Any specific wishes, such as charitable donations or special bequests.

Drafting the Will

Based on the information gathered during the consultation, a customized will is drafted. This document will reflect your intentions clearly and comply with all relevant legal requirements. Key components of the draft include:

  • Introduction and Revocation: Stating your full name, revoking any previous wills, and declaring this document as your last will and testament.
  • Executor Appointment: Naming your executor(s) and any alternates if the primary executor cannot serve.
  • Guardian Appointment: Designating guardians for minor children, if applicable.
  • Specific Bequests: Detailing any specific gifts to individuals or organizations.
  • Residuary Estate: Explaining how the remainder of your estate will be distributed after specific bequests are fulfilled.
  • Signatures and Witnesses: Including spaces for your signature and those of witnesses, adhering to legal formalities.

Review and Revisions

Once the draft is complete, a review meeting is scheduled. This is an opportunity to:

  • Clarify Provisions: Ensure all aspects of the will reflect your intentions accurately.
  • Make Revisions: Address any changes or additions you may have thought of since the initial drafting.
  • Legal Advice: Receive guidance on any complex issues or concerns that may have arisen.

Finalization

After any necessary revisions, the final version of your will is prepared. To ensure its validity:

  • Signing Ceremony: The will must be signed in the presence of witnesses. Typically, two witnesses are required to sign, verifying that they observed you sign the will.
  • Notarization: While not always required, notarizing the will can add an extra layer of authenticity and prevent future challenges.
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What Is the Difference Between a Will and a Trust?

A will and a trust are both important estate planning documents. However, they serve different purposes.

Here are a few differences between a will and a trust:

  • A will goes into effect after your death, while a trust goes into effect as soon as it is created
  • A will can be used to name a guardian for your minor children, while a trust cannot
  • A will must go through the probate process, while a trust does not
  • A will is a public document, while a trust is not

A will and a trust can be used together as part of a comprehensive estate plan. For example, a will can be used to name a guardian for your minor children, while a trust can be used to leave money to your children and specify when they will receive it.

Contact Our Wills Attorney in Tacoma Today

At McCarthy Law Office, we understand that making a will can be an emotional and challenging process. Our Tacoma wills lawyer can provide you with the compassionate and personalized legal guidance you need. When you hire us, we will take the time to listen to your needs and goals, and help you create a will that meets all of them. We can also help you update an existing will as your circumstances change.

Our firm serves clients throughout Pierce County. Call us at (844) 224-5029 or contact us online today to schedule a consultation with our Tacoma wills attorney.

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    From the first interaction to the final delivery, Conor was professional and courteous, took time to understand the legal issues, walked me through multiple scenarios and drafted the document I needed ahead of an aggressive timeline. He also took extra time to work with my legal plan to ensure it was a covered charge. I would gladly recommend him to friends and family.
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    “I had Conor help with our business operating agreement and then my personal will for my wife and myself. He was very responsive, informative and pleasant to work with. He made our experience easy and quick. I would recommend him to my friends and family.
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    “Conor McCarthy is an exceptional attorney! Among his many great talents, he will break down complex scenarios to their core issues promptly, avoiding bloated billing. Having worked with numerous attorneys over the years, it is refreshing to find one who wi”
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    I hired Attorney Conor McCarthy in 2016. I had sustained a serious work injury and was having problems communicating and understanding the process with the Washington State Labor and Industries.

    Conor McCarthy was a godsend, he completely took control, worked successfully with L&I and ultimately brought my case to the best conclusion for my injury and case. Without hesitation, I highly recommend Attorney Conor McCarthy.

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