This website provides instructions and forms for making a Will in Washington. Before proceeding, however, two major decisions need to be made:
Here, the issue is whether at your death, you want to give property to someone but want another to manage or invest the property for that person.
The simplest solution is to provide that the Will contain no Trust, and that any minor beneficiary shall receive his/her distribution through a Custodian under the Washington Uniform Transfers to Minors Act. This solution works remarkably well for what it is designed to do: Provide a simple solution for transferring property to minors. It has two serious limitations, however:
Note: It may be extended to age 25 for transfers made on or after July 1, 2007. RCW 11.114.200(2)
What is needed is a mechanism to hold title to property not only for minors but also for any adult who would benefit from having someone else take title to and manage or invest their property. And the solution to this problem is a Trust —
Consequently, the first major decision you will need to make is whether you wish your Will to include a Trust. If you have a young child or children, even children over age 21, and want to provide for the possibility of extending the age when they would receive any gift you made to them in your Will past age 21, using a Trust Will would allow you to accomplish that result as simply as possible. Similarly, if there is anyone else to whom you wish to make a gift in your Will and who could benefit from having someone else manage or invest the property for them, a Trust Will would allow you to do that as well. Possibilities regarding the latter are:
For purposes of the following discussion, this website will assume that the beneficiaries of any intended trust will be your children.
If you want any gift you make to a younger person to be held until he/she attains an age older than 21, a typical way of accomplishing this result would be to provide in your Will for a Testamentary Trust for the benefit of such person, with the income and principal being distributed by the Trustee to the beneficiary as you set forth in your Will. For example, a simple distribution scheme would be:
A more complicated distribution scheme would be:
Both federal and Washington law exact a death tax, known as the estate tax. Fortunately, both federal and Washington law also provide for no estate taxes to be levied on the first so many dollars of value of property in a Decedent’s estate (plus the amount of taxable gifts made by the Decedent during his/her life). For Decedents dying in 2006 or 2007, that amount (the “estate tax exemption amount”) is $2 million for both federal and Washington state purposes.
Furthermore, qualifying gifts to your spouse or to one or more charities are effectively ignored in this determination (through the “unlimited marital and charitable deductions,” respectively). Consequently, at first impression for a death occurring in 2006 or 2007, if the amount of your total lifetime and deathtime taxable gifts to persons other than your spouse or to charities does not exceed $2 million, the issues of estate tax liability and its reduction or elimination may be unimportant to you. If, however, you are concerned about the possibility of the imposition of estate tax upon your estate, and particularly if the value of your property exceeds $2 million, you might benefit substantially by becoming aware of the possibilities available to you to reduce or eliminate the potential for taxes to be imposed as a result of your death. Such reduction or elimination is readily available although:
The primary focus of this website is to allow you to transfer property during life and at death as simply, efficiently, and inexpensively as possible. While this website attempts to acknowledge the tax consequences of these transfers, it does not attempt to provide detailed suggestions for reducing or eliminating any tax liability that may result from such a transfer. If you believe you may be subject to estate tax liability, WASHINGTON PROBATE encourages you to engage estate tax counsel in your locale.