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The importance of wills in Washington estate planning

Virtually no one enjoys considering the intricacies of the end of their own life. We avoid any detailed examination of how we may come to depart this earth, and often extend our discomfort with the subject by avoiding addressing the need to draft wills and other important documents. Ironically, our own death is one of the only certainties of any Washington resident's life, and failing to recognize the fundamental truth of one's mortality does nothing to stave off the natural progression of human life.

Perhaps a better way to approach the matter is to understand the likely scenario that follows when an individual dies intestate. Even within closely knit families, the loss of a loved one tends to throw things off balance. In the best-case scenario, loved ones are left to ponder what they believe their loved one would have wanted, which is stressful. Far too often, contention arises among family members over the distribution of the estate, at a time when they should be coming together to provide comfort and support.

By drafting a clearly delineated will, it is possible to provide those left behind with a blueprint for how to move forward. It eliminates the need to guess about what would have been wanted, and allows the executor an outline for how to handle the property and assets within the estate. By removing the need for loved ones to make these decisions themselves, a will is in effect the final gift that an individual can leave behind.

When considering the need for wills or other estate planning documents, it is important that Washington residents take the time to fully understand the benefits offered by each option. Virtually no one enjoys the process of outlining the events to follow their own death. However, completing the task can lead to a sense of accomplishment, and the knowledge that this important task has been addressed.

Source: Fox Business, "The Basics of Estate Planning," Constance Fontaine, June 19, 2013

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