Seattles Legacy Wealth Planning Law Firm

Byrd Garrett PLLC

2150 N. 107th St. 150
Seattle, Washington 98133-9009

Phone(206) 363-0123
Fax (206) 363-0216

Law Firm Overview

Our firm is dedicated to providing you with quality estate planning resources, so you can become familiar with all of the existing options. When you visit or call our office, we want you to feel comfortable discussing such an important issue concerning both you and your family.



Byrd Garrett PLLC - Providing services in the following areas of law:

Articles Published by Byrd Garrett PLLC

 Washington Elective Shares

As a general rule in the United States, spouses cannot completely disinherit one another. In non-community property law states, when you die, your spouse will automatically be entitled to inherit at least some of the property you leave behind.

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 Study Reveals Dangers of Elderly Loneliness

Seniors who don't have a lot of strong social connections may be putting their health at a significant risk. Researchers have long known that social isolation and feelings of loneliness can contribute to a decline in health in almost anyone, but elderly people are especially susceptible. Now, researchers at the University of California at San Francisco have released the results of a new study, which further demonstrates just how dangerous being alone as a senior can be.

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 Will Updates Can Require Care

It isn't uncommon for a new client to walk into an estate planning attorney's office and ask if the attorney can make a quick update to a Will. While updating a Will is possible and is generally not difficult, there are often complicating factors which will require you to take more time and to think carefully about how your updates will affect your estate plan. Here are a pair of issues you want to think about if you are intent on updating or changing your Will.

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 Rising Senior Divorce Rate

According to researchers at the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Ohio's Bowling Green University, seniors are divorcing at a much higher rate than ever before. Even though divorce rates are, on average, down for people below the age of 50, people 50 and older are getting divorced nearly twice as fast as previously.

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 Probate Language Oddities

To someone looking in on probate law from the outside, it often appears as if probate lawyers and judges use very strange terminology. Some of the terminology is so odd it can appear as if probate law is written in an entirely different language. Let's take a look at some of the stranger terms you may encounter during the probate and estate planning process.

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 Why Elderly Depression Can be Hard to Detect

It's estimated that about 6 1/2 million seniors suffer from clinical depression. Though many seniors experience depression as the result of ongoing medical issues, depression can also arise as a result of recent deaths of friends and family members, anxieties about death, or social isolation.

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 Arthritis Warning Signs

As we get older, our bodies tend to develop specific types of medical conditions that are much more common in the elderly than they are in younger people. Even though half of all arthritis sufferers are under the age of 65,about one out of every five adults will be diagnosed with the condition at some point in their lives.

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 Financial Moves for the Terminally Ill

A recent article in Forbes points out that the terminally ill face several financial and estate planning questions that, though not often spoken about, are very important. If you've been diagnosed with a terminal illness, it’s important to speak to an estate planning attorney as soon as possible so you can begin addressing key concerns that will not only affect you, but also your family.

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 Debts After Death: Who Pays?

Of all the issues that arise after someone dies, it's often the financial ones that pose the most difficulties. If a spouse or family member passes, you may be unprepared to deal with the specific details of handling the decedent's financial affairs, including any debts left behind. It’s important to understand that family relatives are only rarely responsible for paying the decedent's debts. Here’s what you need to know.

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 The Strange Language of Wills – A Quick Guide

Most people don't spend their daily lives dealing with the language of the law. Because of this, it’s important for anyone creating a Will to take a few moments and learn about some of the common legal terms involved. Here's a brief list of some of the more commonly found words with which you may not be familiar.

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 Probate Courts Handle Numerous Issues

A good estate plan is, often, one that will avoid any probate court complications, thus saving your estate time and money. While probate courts are often unfairly regarded as needlessly bureaucratic, they also handle numerous important legal issues, not all of which are related to estate planning. Let’s take a look at some of the more important issues that might wind up before a probate court.

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 Medicaid Fraud Accounts for Billions Lost Each Year

The costs associated with the growing number of Americans who have fallen into poverty and are relying upon Medicaid for health care insurance are being complicated by the money lost to Medicaid fraud each year. It's estimated that the federal government alone lost about $22 billion of Medicaid funds last year to fraudulent claims.

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 Probate Court – More than Just Wills

For many people, creating an estate plan so that your estate can avoid having to go through probate is one of the main goals of beginning the planning process. However, probate courts do not simply exist to delay the estate settlement process. These courts exist in all states and are responsible for hearing numerous important legal issues. Let's take a look at some of the common issues probate courts handle.

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 When a Family Heirloom Threaten an Estate – 3 Tips to Avoid Conflicts

Some of the most contentious fights between family members after a parent dies are not over the big items or the amount of inheritance but rather over the smaller family heirlooms that tend to have more sentimental value than anything else. Avoiding such conflicts should be at least one goal of any good estate plan. Here are several tips you can use to ensure no conflicts arise over family heirlooms.

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 Estate Planning Guide When Legally Separating

In some situations, a married couple may decide to separate legally, instead of divorcing. While a legal separation contains very similar provisions to a divorce there are certain estate planning concerns that legally separated couples have that a divorced couple does not. It's important to speak to your estate planning attorney if you plan on getting a legal separation.

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 Obesity Rise Having Effect on Medicaid Costs

As Americans continue to eat more, exercise less, and gain more weight, the rise in obesity is having a widespread effect on everything from gas prices to healthcare costs. Recent studies show exactly how pervasive this effect is and how much more all Americans spend on healthcare because of the rise in obesity rates.

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 Can I Challenge a Will? 3 Questions

Not just anyone may challenge the validity of a Will. Though state laws differ slightly, all require that you be related to the Will in some manner. Typically, you must be able to show that you would have received more from the decedent, if he or she had died without a Will; or if he or she wrote an earlier Will that left you more than the current Will.

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 Considering Digital Tombstones

As part of your legacy planning efforts, you may wish to consider digital tombstones. What are digital tombstones? Essentially they are websites that allow you to assemble your personal information in one place, so your family and friends can visit it when they wish. If you're considering using such a service, there are several issues you will want to consider.

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 When to Make an Estate Planning Change – 3 Key Moments

Anyone who welcomes a new child should always update his or her estate plan as soon as possible. Not only will you want to make provisions in your plan to care for your child financially if you should die prematurely, but you should also name a guardian. Also, if you created an estate plan when your child was first born and the child has since grown older, you will probably want to review the plan to make sure your choice of guardian is still appropriate.

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 Who Will Watch Over My Pet After I'm Gone? 3 Questions about Pet Trusts

A pet owner who creates a pet trust ensures that his or her pet will be cared for after the owner dies. A pet trust is a legal entity that owns property for the benefit of your pet. You create this trust by detailing what you want to trust to do after you die and include those terms in your last will and testament or living trust, or by creating the trust to take effect while you are still alive.

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 Funeral Planning Without the Funeral – 3 New Options

Once you've begun the estate planning process and start looking towards practical concerns such as funeral planning, you may want to consider some new options that are currently available. No longer are people only limited to a choice between a burial and cremation. Today there are several alternatives you can consider when trying to decide what you wish to do with your earthly remains.

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 Common Questions About Wills

Do I Need a Will – The short answer to that question is yes; everyone should have a will. Although all states have laws that dictate who the people are that are your beneficiaries if you don’t have a will, having one will let you, and not the court, determine who will inherit your assets.

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 Medical Care vs. End-of-Life Care

There was a 60 Minutes segment that aired in '09 that was entitled "The Cost Of Dying," and this report was very relevant to anyone who is wondering why estate planning lawyers recommend advance health care directives like living wills and durable medical powers of attorney.

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 How a Trustee Should Communicate

The Successor Trustee of a Revocable Living Trust is the lifeline between the affairs of a decedent’s estate and the beneficiaries. If beneficiaries have no idea what is happening with the estate settlement process, they may feel like they have no control and may begin to protest the actions of the Trustee. As Trustee, you must always keep the lines of communication open.

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 How to Deal With Elder Abuse

Do you know what to do if you suspect elder abuse? First you must understand what elder abuse is and how to spot it. - Types of Abuse - Elder abuse is the abuse of a retired aged individual in a nursing facility or in his or her own home. There are many types of elder abuse: financial, physical including sexual, verbal, and neglectful.

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 Understanding No Contest Clauses

If you have a Last Will and Testament, Revocable Living Trust or an Irrevocable Trust, you have the option to include a No Contest Clause in your document. So what is a “No Contest” clause? It is a statement that says any beneficiary who challenges your estate document will be completely disinherited.

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 How to Lower Estate Taxes

Federal estate taxes are taxes that will be owed upon your estate after you pass away. Your estate will owe taxes if your assets are worth more than a certain amount. The maximum estate tax rate is quite high, so finding ways to decrease your taxable estate is vital.

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 Is Taking Retirement Funds Early Safe?

During this time of economic woes, more people are turning to their retirement accounts for extra funds. So, is this a safe option to help you get through a job loss or financial crisis? Before you withdraw your funds early you should consider the costs you may incur, if your situation may avoid some of those costs, and if there is an alternative to provide you with the same financial relief.

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 Should You Include Your Business in Your Estate Plan?

When you start a business, you should not only consider how your business will thrive; you should also think about what will happen to it when you are no longer available to run daily activities. You may have an unspoken plan to hand the business down to your children, but you must evaluate whether this will really work.

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 Trusts: Revocable and Irrevocable

Trusts, both revocable and irrevocable, offer a variety of options that allow you to tailor your estate plan to your specific needs and desires. If you have an estate that extends beyond a basic Last Will and Testament, you should understand the differences between these two types of Trusts.

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 Picking Estate Fiduciaries

A fiduciary is someone who monitors assets for you, with your best interests in mind. This may be a financial institution, a property management company or a trustee. Fiduciaries are not only an important part of life; they are also essential during your disability and after your death. During the estate planning process, you must take care when choosing your attorney-in-fact, health care agent, successor trustee, or estate executor.

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 How to Leave an Inheritance for Your Minor Children

Since you do not know what age your children will be when you pass away, it is best to plan their inheritance as if they have not reached adulthood at that time. You can always update your plan after your children are grown. There are several ways to leave an inheritance for your minor children.

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 How a Will Can Protect Your Blended Family

The standard image of a family as a mother and father with two children is becoming less frequent. In the current age, families include a variety of situations divorces, single parents, unmarried couples living together, same-sex parents, second marriages and beyond. So how do you ensure that your blended family receives the inheritance you wish to leave upon your death? A valid Last Will and Testament is one way to safeguard your final wishes.

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 How to Include Your Pets in Your Estate Plan

Your pets are an important part of your family, so it is vital that you include them in your estate plan. Like naming a guardian for your children you can name a guardian for your pets. You should do so to avoid family disagreements if more than one person should want to care for your furry loved ones. A worst case scenario is if no family member is willing to step forward and take your pet into their home.

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 Do You Need an Estate Plan?

For many, the idea of creating an estate plan is something they’ll do “later.” As in when they’re older, when they have more “stuff” or whenever they have some time to actually sit down and do it. But putting off creating your estate plan isn’t a good idea, and I’ll tell you why.

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 How to Decide if Someone You Love Needs Long Term Care

The decision to seek long term care for a loved one is a difficult one to make. Perhaps you are afraid of hurting your family member’s feelings by suggesting they are no longer capable. Or maybe your family member isn’t ready to admit the need for help. Despite the difficulty of broaching this touchy subject, you must do so for the health and safety of your loved one. The good news is you don’t have to do it alone.

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 Financial Security and Early Retirement

Most people like to believe that they will be able to retire years before they reach full retirement age. Although this is a nice thought, it’s not very realistic unless you commit to solid planning early on. One of the first things you should decide is at what age you would like to retire. The second thing you’ll need to know is how much financial security you expect to have.

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 Protecting Your Loved One with a Special Needs Trust

If, like Sabina and me, you have a loved one who is disabled, then you know how important government assistance programs can be to their well-being. But to qualify for these programs, your dependent must have limited finances. So, any inheritance you leave him or her could potentially put their eligibility for government assistance at risk.

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 Estate Planning for Blended Families

Because so many families have children from more than one marriage, estate planning for blended families has become a common challenge in the estate planning world. How, for example, do you ensure that your children from a previous marriage will benefit from your assets if you die first?

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 Estate Planning Dos and Don'ts

Estate planning is a complicated and on-going process. It can seem tiring because you need to frequently update your plan based on changes in your personal circumstances, as well as changes in the tax laws. Although there is no way out of the frequent reviewing of your estate plan, you can simplify the entire process by following a few do’s and don’ts.

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 Washington Oral Wills – 4 Facts

While everyone in Washington who is a competent adult can create his or her own last will, State law also allows some people to create an oral will in limited situations. These wills, known as nuncupative wills in the State statutes, can only be used in a very limited set of circumstances, and you should not rely on the oral will provisions to create your last will and testament.

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 The Washington State Death with Dignity Act

After much debate, the Washington Legislature finally passed the Washington State Death with Dignity Act in 2008. The law allows certain physicians to prescribe lethal doses of medication to terminally ill patients. Terminally ill patients, according to the Washington State Death with Dignity Act, are those with six months or less remaining to live, who reside in Washington, and who are at least 18 years old.

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 Estate Planning Terms: Executive Bond Waivers

Once a person dies leaving behind property, someone has to take on the responsibility to manage that property and then transfer it to new owners. This person, known as an administrator or an executor, has a special duty to protect the estate property and to see the decedent's wishes are followed.

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 How to Address Your Pet’s Estate Planning Needs

Section 11.118 of the Revised Code of Washington, governs pet trusts. Pursuant to this code section Washington State law allows individuals to set up trusts for the care of their pets. Animal or pet trusts are similar to trusts for children. You must appoint a competent adult to take care of your animal, just as you would for a child.

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 Federal Income Taxes on Inheritances

In most cases, the Internal Revenue Service does not impose federal income taxes on inheritances. Thus, recipients of large inheritances may not have to pay income taxes on the value of their gifts. Instead, Congress enacted tax laws imposing the federal income tax liabilities on estates.

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 How Do I Get Assets Out of My Living Trust?

You maintain full control of all of your living trust assets, so you’ll be happy to know that you have the power to take your assets out of your living trust, so long as you are alive and well. You transfer assets out of your trust the same way you got them into your trust. You change the title (or the beneficiary designation.)

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 What are Revocable Living Trusts?

Revocable living trusts allow you to distribute your assets through written documents, similar to wills. Also similar to a will, if you create a revocable living trust, you can revoke or amend your trust to change the distribution of your trust assets.

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 How a Revocable Living Trust Can Minimize Federal Estate Taxes

We all want to pay the least amount of tax dollars possible; a revocable living trust may be able to help minimize federal estate taxes.

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 17 Things You Need to Know about Your Estate Plan

There’s lots to know about your estate plan; that’s why it’s important to work with a qualified estate planning attorney.

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 Who Should I Choose as My Health Care Agents?

Your health care agents make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to provide informed consent at the time and have not already done so.

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 The Basics of a Financial Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is the next best thing to a magic wand.

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 How to Convince Grandma That Long Term Care is Needed

It can be stressful and overwhelming for Grandma to think about the possibility of long term care,especially a nursing home.

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 Early Retirement and Stress

Many of the people who are thinking about retiring early are doing so because they can no longer cope with the stress of the corporate world. These are people that are only in their mid 50s, and want out of their jobs, the sooner the better.

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 Talk with Your Parents about an Estate Plan

If you are trying to take care of young children, while at the same time caring for aging parents, you know exactly how difficult it can be.

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 Do-It-Yourself Wills Not Advised

These days you can find information about "how to" do just about anything on the Internet, and the ability that we now have to rapidly exchange information is certainly a good thing. However, it is important to be discerning about the types of things you can and can't effectively do for yourself with some instructions that you get online.

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 A Guide to Understanding Trusts

Trusts have been touted as an excellent tool to avoid probate and estate taxes. This may be true depending upon your circumstances; however, it is difficult to determine if a trust may be right for you without a basic understanding of trust terminology. Listed below are some basic trusts terms that will help you comprehend the subject.

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 Estate Planning and the Single Parent

Kai is a single professional woman. She had an unplanned pregnancy at 31 and decided to keep her child. The child’s father who was in his mid 40’s wants nothing to do with the child and denied paternity.

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 Issues in Elder Law: Elder Abuse and Neglect

One of the biggest concerns in Elder Law is Elder Abuse. It has always been a concern for those vulnerable adults who are institutionalized in Nursing Homes or state hospitals, especially as the population in this country grows older. Abuse is also an issue in instances where elderly adults are being cared for at home by their grown children.

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 Why Do I Need a Power of Attorney?

Everyone age 18 and older needs a power of attorney. It is a myth that you can legally sign your spouse’s (or child’s) name on a check, contract, or other document. A power of attorney is a legal document wherein you name an agent to act on your behalf in financial or medical matters.

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 Removing a Bad Guardian

What do you do if you feel a Guardian is not looking out for the interests of the ward? If you have reason to believe that a Guardian is not fulfilling their obligations to the ward, you must first report your concerns to the Superior Court in the county in which the ward lives.

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 Jointly Owned Property

Jointly owned property is everywhere. While we were growing up, our moms and dads owned all of their assets jointly. So when we got married, we did the same. We own our assets jointly with our children, second spouses, and siblings. When a joint owner is sued or dies, we see why joint owned property is the big “Oops.”

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 The 2011 Tax Law

While most folks can breathe a sigh of relief regarding the provisions of the 2011 tax law, this relief will only last for the years 2011 and 2012. If you’re not planning on giving away all of your assets or dying during the next two years, the 2011 tax law will likely affect you and your family.

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 How to Revoke a Will

Are you looking to get rid of your current will or to update it? If so, it’s often a good idea to start fresh by creating a new will. Just destroying your current will may not be enough! Take the following tips into consideration if you are thinking about revoking your will. This will ensure that you have the correct legal documents in place for the future.

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 Items to Put with Your Will

When you create an estate plan, one of the most important things that you could do is to ensure that all of your documents are in order and easily accessible when it comes time that they are needed by your loved ones.

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