Law Office of Robert N. Getz, P.S.
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Robert N. Getz

Everett Legal Issues Blog

About probate in the state of Washington

Losing a loved one is never easy. Divvying up his or her estate can be a pain, particularly if he or she failed to create an estate plan. In the state of Washington, probate may be necessary before assets can be passed on to beneficiaries, but it is not always required. Every case is different.

What is probate? It is a discretionary proceeding at which all estate documents are examined, creditors and taxes are paid and then assets are distributed to beneficiaries. If a formal probate proceeding is called for, a personal representative will be put in charge of handling everything. The person assigned to this role may have been named by the deceased or a judge may appoint the person he or she deems fit to tackle the role.

Giving children a say in child custody matters

If your children are young and you are going through the divorce process, you and your spouse or the courts are expected to come up with a custody plan that is best for them. If your children are a little older and in a place where they can really express their wishes regarding with whom they wish to live, they may have a say in the process. If you want to allow your child to have a say in child custody matters, you may need help to get a Washington family court judge on board if your soon-to-be ex does not agree.

Not all states are open to considering a child's wishes when it comes to child custody. Luckily, here it is possible. The courts in Washington understand that children are people with feelings and thoughts that should not be ignored. The problem is determining when those thoughts and feelings should be considered.

5 FAQs about the divorce mediation process

If you and your ex-spouse both want to handle your divorce peacefully, but aren’t sure how to work past strong emotions, divorce mediation may be a solution. This practice involves multiple sessions in which a trained specialist guides you and your ex-spouse through the tough divorce issues you’re struggling to resolve.

Still have questions? You’re not alone. Here are five frequently asked questions by those who are interested in the possibility of using divorce mediation.

Washington probate: Why challenge a loved one's will

Losing a loved one is never an easy thing to go through, even if it is really for the best due to age or illness. When it happens, there will likely be the desire to get through the probate process as swiftly as possible. However, depending on how his or her will was written, it may be wise to slow things down and challenge the contents, which can be done in a Washington probate court.

Why challenge a will? There are a number of reasons to do it. Maybe one's loved one made last minute changes due to the influence of certain individuals. Maybe one is concerned about his or her loved one's mental capacity at the time the will was written. Maybe there are concerns about the will's overall validity due to a lack of witnesses at the signing.

Watch what you post to social media during your divorce

A good number of Washington residents have social media accounts to which they post photos, videos and their personal thoughts. There is nothing wrong with this as long as one realizes this information shared with the public might be used against them in court. Those going through the divorce process would be wise to reconsider their social media habits.

Dissolving a marriage is often a stressful and frustrating time in one's life. It can be tempting to turn to social media to air one's grievances on the matter. It can be tempting to bash one's ex or overshare private details. Before doing any of the above, think about children -- if applicable -- and if they will see the information being put out there. Think about how this information could be used to hurt one's final divorce settlement -- because it can -- and think about what friends and family really need to know about your private family affairs.

Washington child custody: Creating parenting plans that work

When a couple decides to split up and each party goes their separate ways, there are a lot of things, both big and small, to figure out. If the couple has children, they will need to work out child custody. There are two ways to set up a parenting plan in Washington -- through negotiating the matter or by going to court.

Thankfully, parents in Washington have a number of options when it comes to parenting plans. There are sole and joint custody options, as well as visitation options, just like anywhere else. Joint custody and visitation can be a flexible as the family needs it to be.

Washington probate: Is your estate plan up to date?

If you have taken the time to create an estate plan, you probably think you are good to go with no reason to look at it again. The simple truth of the matter is this: estate plans often need updating. Failing to ensure an estate plan is up to date could mean it will end up sitting in a Washington probate court for some time after you die.

Why might an estate plan need to be updated? If you created your estate plan at a time in your life when you were still acquiring assets and adding to your family, depending on how you worded your legal documents, they may prove insufficient for your needs. If you created your estate plan while married but then you got a divorce, you may need to change your beneficiaries and advance directives, or your former spouse could end up having a say in things you do not want him or her to have a say in.

Steps to a divorce in Washington state

You and your spouse have decided to split up. You've thought this through, perhaps gone to couples counseling. When the counseling is not working, you decide to go through with the divorce.

In the case that divorce is a certainty, you need to know what steps to take to get a divorce in Washington. When navigating this significant life change, you'll want to consider consulting with a lawyer before proceeding.

When filing for divorce, men may seek spousal support

In Washington and elsewhere, spousal support is often thought of something only granted to women as part of their marital dissolution settlements. The simple truth of the matter is, this benefit is not just for women. Men who make less than their spouses may also petition the court for maintenance to be included in their divorce settlements.

According to a recent news article in The New York Times, the number of women making more than their spouses or significant others is on the rise. In the 1980s, in 18 percent of all couples, women were to top earners. That number has increased to 25 percent, according to Pew Research Center.

How does divorce mediation work?

Washington residents who are ready to end their marriages are typically required to utilize an alternative dispute resolution method to come to settlement terms rather than turn straight to litigation. Whether by one gets to mediation by choice or force, it can result in fair and balanced divorce settlements for most couples. How does mediation work?

The mediation process involves both parties meeting to discuss the terms of their divorce with a neutral third-party present. The mediator's goal is to keep the conversation going, not to side with either party. Legal counsel can be present during these sessions if desired, or any proposed terms can be taken to one's attorney for review before accepting.

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