Estate Planning 102: Expanding Your Knowledge on Estate Preservation 

Estate planning can sometimes feel like navigating through a dense jungle with its own special language. Worry not! We’ve crafted a simple-to-follow FAQ that sheds light on some common questions and concepts, making estate planning in Washington state feel like a walk in the park. Let’s decode the mystique surrounding trusts, retirement accounts, and more, ensuring that you’re well-equipped for this crucial journey.


Q: Do I need to list all my assets on the trust agreement?

A: Think of a trust agreement like a big container. You don’t need to write down everything you’re going to put in it right away. The container is ready to hold your assets whenever you transfer them. While trusts can have lists of assets, these lists don’t dictate what must be in the trust. As you transfer ownership of assets to the trust or name the trust as a beneficiary, those assets become part of the container.


Q: Do I need to amend my trust every time I change my assets?

A: Not at all! Imagine adding new items to the container without needing to change its label every time. As long as you ensure that new assets are owned by the trust, they’ll be governed by the trust terms. However, if you wish a particular new asset to be a special gift, you might need to update the trust document.


Q: What is an amendment? What is a restatement? What is the difference?

A: Picture an amendment as changing a chapter of a book, and a restatement as rewriting the entire book. An amendment alters specific parts of your trust agreement, while a restatement replaces the whole trust agreement. Just like publishing a book, both need the author’s (or grantor’s) signature and must meet the trust creation requirements.


Q: What is a codicil?

A: A codicil is like a short update to your autobiography (your will). It’s a way to make changes or additions without writing a whole new book. Just like the original, it needs your signature and witnesses.


Q: What is a common trust?

A: Imagine a family pooling resources to take care of shared expenses or goals. That’s what a common trust does; it’s created for multiple beneficiaries who benefit from pooled management, usually children.


Q: How do I make sure all of my children are taken care of?

A: Creating a trust is like establishing a safety net for your children. You set the rules and appoint someone reliable (trustee) to make sure your children’s education, health care, and other needs are met according to your wishes. Additionally, by creating a will, you can appoint a guardian to look after your minor children if needed.


Q: Can a trust be a beneficiary of a retirement account?

A: Absolutely! But think of it like a special recipe with specific ingredients. The trust must be irrevocable, have identifiable human beneficiaries, and comply with certain tax rules and deadlines. This ensures the retirement account’s tax benefits continue and that the trust handles the funds effectively.


Q: How do I avoid probate on a property I own in another state?

A: Probate can feel like a long, winding queue at the amusement park. To skip the line, you can use a revocable living trust. This trust holds the title to your assets and distributes them smoothly to your loved ones without the need for court intervention.


Q: How long should a trust last?

A: Imagine a trust like a TV series. Some are short, like mini-series for specific goals, and others are like long-running dramas for generational wealth. State laws and your family’s story dictate how many seasons your trust gets.


Q: What’s the difference between guardianship and conservatorship?

A: Picture guardianship as a life coach, making calls on schooling and healthcare. Conservatorship is like a financial adviser, managing money matters. Both roles are key, but different in scope.


Q: What happens if I name my underage child as a beneficiary of my IRA?

A: It’s like handing a kid the keys to a treasure chest. Naming a custodian or trustee is essential – they’ll safeguard the treasure and make sure it’s used wisely, like for schooling or healthcare.



There you have it – a simplified guide through the estate planning labyrinth. It’s a vast world, but knowing the fundamentals is your map. For any further queries, we’re here with the answers.