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Robert N. Getz

Everett Legal Issues Blog

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.

Stipulations: How to control how your heirs spend your money

Your financial stability has given your family a great life and you want to see this carried down to future generations, including your grandchildren. Here are some tips for leaving an inheritance to people who may just be toddlers -- or even teens now -- but will be adults in the future. 

 

Why protecting personal data matters during divorce

Every year, numerous couples in Washington and elsewhere decide to end their marriages. When going through the divorce process, there is a lot on one's plate. It is easy to overlook things that can cause issues now or down the line. For example, failing to protect digital accounts can result in the other party stealing and using information in order to get a better settlement.

No one wants to believe that the person he or she shared a life with would do such a thing. Unfortunately, divorce does not tend to bring out the good in people. Some individuals are amazed to find how far their spouses will go in order to hurt them or achieve more out of the divorce.

What can be learned from the Pitt-Jolie child custody case?

Every year, numerous married couples in Washington and elsewhere decide to call it quits. There is nothing wrong with divorce, as it allows both parties to move forward in their lives. Divorce can be difficult for children, though, and the courts will do everything possible to ensure child custody arrangements are created that will serve the best interests of the kids.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie decided to end their marriage late in 2016. Their divorce has yet to be finalized, but child custody arrangements have been put in place. Jolie currently enjoys sole custody, while Pitt has visitation rights -- which is a fairly common arrangement in family law circles. According to a recent report, their custody plan may be changed if Jolie does not do more to promote a stronger parent/child bond between Pitt and his kids. What can be learned from this case?

Probate and the DIY will

Washington residents who want to ensure that their assets and beneficiaries are protected in the event of their deaths have a lot to do to make sure it is done. It would be nice to believe that a do-it-yourself will would be sufficient. However, at the end of the day, such a will may not hold up in probate.

There are a lot of times that jumping on the DIY bandwagon is a good thing. When it comes to any type of estate planning, this may be a good time to pass. DIY estate planning products are very basic. They do not take into account state laws; they only cover the necessary federal laws.

Is mediation mandatory when going through the divorce process?

You are ready to get a divorce and know that you and your spouse are not going to agree on much. You just want to take your case to court but keep hearing about having to try mediation. Is mediation mandatory in Washington?

Mediation is where a couple meets with a neutral third party to try and work out a divorce settlement. It can work even if the couple has children or complex assets. It will only work if each party is willing to talk things through and be open to negotiation. In the state of Washington, yes, mediation is generally mandatory in contested divorce cases.

Can I get a sole child custody order?

Getting a divorce? Have children to consider? Wondering if sole child custody is an option? It may or may not be for some Washington residents. 

What is sole custody? This is where only one parent achieves custody of his or her children. The other parent may or may not be granted visitation rights. It all depends on the family circumstances. There are times when the non-custodial parent will not achieve any level of visitation -- such as if domestic violence and/or substance abuse are noted issues.

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