Preparing an Estate Inventory and Appraisement

When you've been appointed Personal Representative of an Estate, one of your jobs is to prepare an Estate Inventory & Appraisement. The Inventory must be prepared within 90 days after the date of your appointment and a copy must be made available to any heir, distributee, unpaid creditor who has filed a claim, some beneficiaries of nonprobate assets, or the Dept. of Revenue within 10 days of their requesting a copy. The Estate's lawyer will usually prepare the final draft of the Inventory in a form acceptable to the Court. The Inventory does not need to be filed with the Court unless so requested by an interested party. The law requires that the assets in the inventory be categorized as follows: (1) Real Estate; (2) Stocks & Bonds; (3) Mortgages, notes, and other written evidences of debt owed to the decedent; (4) Bank accounts and money; (5) Furniture and household goods; and (6) All other personal property.

If you've been appointed Personal Representative of a loved one's estate and have questions about your duties and responsibilities, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to find out how we can be of service. We proudly serve clients throughout Washington and Idaho and are available to meet in person, by phone, or via Skype or FaceTime.

Sometimes things happen in life that might warrant changes to your Will, Trust, Power of Attorney, etc.

Sometimes things happen in life that might warrant some changes to your Will, Trust, Power of Attorney, etc. Things like marriages, divorces, births, adoptions, deaths, buying or selling a family business, or changes in your health or your spouse's health. We recommend our clients review their estate plans every 3 or 4 years, or more often if major changes in family circumstances occur.

If you've had a life event come up that makes you think you should review your estate plan, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to see how we can be of service. We proudly serve clients throughout Washington and Idaho and are available to meet in person, by phone, or via Skype or FaceTime.

Dealing With Insurance Companies on Behalf of Injured Clients

Insurance companies! They're a pain to deal with, right? If you've been injured in an auto collision and it was somebody else's fault, we'll deal with the insurance company for you. We'll investigate and compile all the information you need to present your claim to the at-fault driver's insurance company, like property damage records, police reports, medical records, wage loss evidence, and witness statements. We'll present your claim and negotiate with the insurance company to get you a just and fair settlement. And if we can't come to an agreement with the insurance company, we'll bring a lawsuit on your behalf and take your claim to a judge and jury.

If we can be of service to you, your family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to make an appointment for a free initial consultation.

We represent small businesses and their owners through all stages of the business's life.

If you're a small business owner, we can help you. If you're just starting up and need help preparing Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws (if you're a corporation) or a Certificate of Formation and Operating Agreement (if you're an LLC), we can do that. If your business is already established and you need help preparing service contracts, employment agreements, non-disclosure or non-compete agreements, vendor contracts, leases, etc., we can do that. If things have taken a turn and you need a lawyer to help prosecute or defend a lawsuit or collect a delinquent account, we can do that.

Give us a call at 253.858.5434 to see what we can do to help you. We proudly serve clients throughout Washington and Idaho and are available to meet in person, by phone, or via Skype or FaceTime.

The First Step in Probating an Estate - Locating Important Documents

Most people have little experience dealing with what happens after their loved one dies and they get appointed as Personal Representative to settle the estate. Before being appointed to serve as Personal Representative, the first step in probating an estate is to locate all of the Decedent's estate planning documents and other important papers.

The Decedent's estate planning documents may include a Will, funeral, cremation, burial or memorial instructions, and/or a Revocable Living Trust. The original documents should be stored in a safe place until they can be given to the estate's lawyer.

The Decedent's important papers will include information about their assets, including bank and brokerage statements, stock certificates, life insurance policies, corporate records, car and boat titles, and deeds; and information about the decedent's debts, including utility bills, credit card bills, mortgages, personal loans, and medical bills. From these documents a list should be made of what the Decedent owned and owed, how each asset is titled (in the Decedent's individual name, as a tenant in common, in joint names, or in a trust), and, for assets and debts that have a statement, the value of the asset or debt as listed on the statement and the date of the statement. In addition, the Decedent's prior three years of income tax returns should be reviewed.

Once the decedent's important documents have been sorted through, the next is to meet with a lawyer to open the estate with the probate court.

If you've been named Personal Representative of someone's estate and have questions about how the probate process works, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to find out how we can be of service.

Every Family is Unique and Needs an Estate Plan to Fit Their Unique Situation

For some people, all they need is a simple Will and Power of Attorney for their estate plan. For others, a more complex estate plan is called for. People with taxable estates (more than $5.49 million), people with minor or disabled children, people who own their own business, or people in 2nd marriages where both spouses have children from previous relationships, all live in situations that may require a complex estate plan.

Every person and every family is unique. That's why we take the time to meet with our clients in person, get to know them, and come up with a plan that meets their goals and fits their circumstances, sometimes coordinating our efforts with the client's accountant, financial planner, or other advisors.

If you have questions about how we can be of service to you and your family, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to set up an appointment. We proudly serve clients throughout Washington and Idaho.

Using "Demand Letters" to Settle Our Clients' Personal Injury Cases

When we've been hired by a client who's been injured in an auto collision, before we file a lawsuit, we'll first send a "demand letter" to the other side. A demand letter is typically sent when the scope and severity of a client's injuries are understood and a compelling argument for the defendant's liability has been established. The most common way we settle claims without litigation is to initiate a conversation with the at-fault driver's insurance company by drafting and sending the demand letter. This letter puts the other side on notice of the claim and affords them the opportunity to settle before a costly and time consuming personal injury lawsuit is filed.

Once we've concluded our investigation of the personal injury claim and have all of the relevant information concerning the client's damages--including medical treatment, lost wages, and pain and suffering-- and the other side's role in causing those damages, it's usually time to send the letter.

A well-written personal injury demand letter should:

* Provide an objective, verifiable account of the incident that led to our client's injuries;
* Explain why the other side is responsible for our client's injuries and why our client is free of responsibility;
* Provide a detailed, verifiable explanation of our client's injuries;
* Itemize all of the client's medical expenses, out of pocket expenses, and lost wages
* Address the specifics of our client's pain, suffering, and emotional distress
* Include any known witness statements and the names of all known witnesses, medical providers, and employers who will provide support for the client's damage claims;
* Contain a settlement demand for the specific amount of money we are seeking to settle the claim; and
* Request a response to the demand within a reasonable time (usually 30 days or so).

When an insurance company receives a demand letter that includes the information listed above, it will typically treat the claim in a serious manner, and will embark upon its own investigation. At this point, the insurer's goal is to respond to the demand with a counteroffer. Just as we are interested in settling the claim without having to file suit, the insurance company is likewise concerned about attorney fees and other litigation costs that can cause a claim to become prohibitively expensive. For this reason, insurance companies will seize the opportunity to negotiate a pre-suit settlement whenever it is presented. A well-written demand letter serves as the catalyst for negotiation and ultimate settlement of a personal injury claim. When this letter documents the facts supporting the elements of the claim, it is an effective tool in the personal injury attorney's arsenal and often leads to a timely, cost effective resolution. Further, if the parties do not settle and filing a lawsuit becomes necessary, we use the demand letter as the starting point for drafting the mediation statement and ultimately the trial brief.

If you have been injured in an auto collision and need legal help negotiating your claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to see how we can help.

Representing Small Business Owners in Business Disputes

Sometimes when you own your own business, things don't always go as planned. Even when you try to head off problems before they happen, sometimes they come up anyway. And even if you have contracts in place protecting your rights and defining the parties' responsibilities, sometimes your employees, customers, vendors, or independent contractors don't live up to their end of the deal. You might not want to, but now is the time to call your lawyer. We can help enforce your agreements and protect your business by reminding the other side of their obligations and, if necessary, by bringing a breach of contract lawsuit on your behalf to take your claim to a judge and jury.

As awful as that sounds, sometimes that's the nature of owning a small business, and we'll do our best to make the process as painless for you as we can. We have over 20 years' experience in representing small businesses and their owners in their business disputes. If you're a small business owner and need legal help, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to see how we can be of service. We proudly serve clients throughout Washington and Idaho and are available to meet in person, by phone, or via Skype.

Settling a Probate Estate "in a Timely Manner"

Washington law requires that a Personal Representative settle the estate and distribute the decedent's assets "in a timely manner." (RCW 11.40.010) If you've been named Personal Representative, it is your duty to administer and wrap up the estate as timely as feasible, given the circumstances. This means you need to get the decedent's final bills paid, sell the house and other assets (if necessary), make specific gifts, and distribute the residue of the estate without unwarranted delay.

If you've been named Personal Representative of an estate and need legal help in performing your duties, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to see how we can be of service.

Availability for Meetings in Boise, Idaho on September 22

Idaho Clients, Colleagues, Family, and Friends - Steve will be in Boise September 22-24 for Zoo Boise's annual fundraiser and is available to meet with clients or potential new clients on Friday the 22nd. Give us a call at 253.858.5434 if you're interested in setting up an appointment.

Lawyers Helping Hungry Children's 26th Annual Fundraising Luncheon - October 10, 2017 in Seattle

Lawyers Helping Hungry Children is having its 26th annual fundraising luncheon on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 at the Grand Hyatt Seattle. LHHC is a group of lawyers and law firms that fights child hunger and malnutrition through fundraising, advocacy, and service. This year's speakers are the Honorable Bobbe Bridge (Ret.) of the Washington Supreme Court and Washington Solicitor General Noah Purcell. Funds raised go to support Northwest Harvest, Emergency Feeding Program of Seattle and King County, City of Seattle Summer Food Service Program, and CARE.

If you're interested in attending the luncheon or joining Lawyers Helping Hungry Children, give us a call at 253.858.5434 and we'll help you get signed up.

Discounts on Estate Planning Legal Services for Preachers, Teachers, and First Responders

In case you forgot (or didn't know), we offer certain discounts to some of our estate planning clients. Since Wills for Heroes no longer has an active chapter in Washington, we knock 50% off the legal fees for cops and firefighters who want Wills, Powers of Attorney, etc. And in honor of my parents, we also give a 50% "Preachers & Teachers" discount to those of our clients who are ministers, priests, rabbis, etc. and teachers who want to put estate plans in place. If you know anybody who fits into one of those categories, have them give us a call at 253.858.5434 and we'll make sure they and their families get taken care of.

Using Trusts as Part of Your Estate Plan

We like Trusts. Trusts are cool. Trusts can be a major part of your estate plan. Living Trusts can make things a lot easier for your family and charitable beneficiaries when you die - they're cheaper, faster, more flexible, and more private than probate. Testamentary Trusts (Trusts you make in your Will) are a much more flexible, efficient, and economic way to manage and disburse money to your kids or grandkids than guardianships.

If you have questions about using Trusts as part of your estate plan, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to set up an appointment today. We proudly serve clients throughout Washington and Idaho and are available to meet in person, by phone, or via Skype or FaceTime.

Representing Injured People in Claims Arising from Auto Collisions

When you've been injured in an auto collision, you have enough to deal with besides dealing with insurance companies. Hiring a lawyer to represent you in your personal injury claim gives you the time and ability to concentrate on your main job - getting better. Go to your doctor appointments, fill your prescriptions, do your physical therapy, and get your chiropractic and massage treatments. Leave it to your lawyer to present the facts of the collision, the details of your injuries and how they've affected your life and your family, and the calculations of your lost earnings to the insurance company. Your lawyer knows best how to negotiate a fair and just settlement, and if the insurance company won't settle, your lawyer will take your case to a judge and jury for you.

We have over 20 years' experience representing injured people and their survivors. We have made the commitment to handle many cases - especially personal injury cases - on the basis of "no recovery - no fee" because we believe that people who've been injured and are possibly unable to work or afford attorney fees deserve to be fairly compensated for their losses and are entitled to equal access to the judicial system. If you, a friend, family member, neighbor, or co-worker have been injured in an auto collision, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to make an appointment for a free initial consultation.

Representing Small Businesses, Nonprofit Organizations, and Churches Throughout Washington & Idaho

We represent numerous small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and churches throughout Washington and Idaho. We assist these clients with their corporate formation and governance, preparing and reviewing leases and contracts, developing policies, and any related litigation. If you're a small business owner and have need for legal services, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to find out how we can be of service.