Archive for legal documents

What’s the Difference Between Probate and Estate Planning Attorneys?

Knowing the differences between probate and estate planning attorney can help you choose the right one for your needs.

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between attorneys who handle probate versus those who provides estate planning? Simply stated, a probate attorney deals with what happens after a person dies. An estate planning attorney provides legal advice and guidance while a person is still alive. Both probate and estate planning attorneys are state licensed.

Visit the Washington State Bar Association to make sure the attorney you want to hire is licensed in Washington state.

Probate

A probate attorney files your will with the court and appoints an executor of your estate. After your death, a probate attorney also pays bills, files taxes, obtains appraisals of your property and distributes assets and property to your heirs. He can also make decisions in regards to your retirement plan.

This lawyer also files a final accounting of your estate and settles any disputes. Some probate attorneys handle legal matters and represent the beneficiary of an estate. Click here to view our referral list of probate attorneys in Washington state.

Related: Click here to read our blog post, 5 Things to Know About Probate in Washington State


Estate Planning

An estate planning attorney helps you plan what happens after your death. While you can create your own will and health care directives, some people prefer to hire an estate planning attorney to write these documents.

Estate planning attorneys also help set up your estate so your assets are distributed the way you want upon your death. This might involve setting up trusts and joint accounts to avoid estate taxes. An estate attorney also helps create non-probate assets so you control how everything will be distributed. This allows the court to more quickly distribute your assets, since non-probate assets are not controlled by the court, according to ElderLawAnswers, a law firm specializing in elder law.

Your estate planning attorney can also set up the proper paperwork to create joint accounts, bank and life insurance accounts with beneficiaries, and property put in a trust.

Finding an estate planning attorney familiar with Washington state law is important to avoid having your plan deemed invalid by the court, says The Balance. Click here to view our referral list of estate planning attorneys in Washington state.

Parenting Plan: Six Tips for Creating a Successful Plan

A solid parently plan focuses on your kids' needs.

Writing a successful parenting plan that works for both of you and gets approval by the court can feel like a complicated process. Yet its importance when it comes to determining child custody responsibilities cannot be overstated. In the end, the plan should help your children feel both parents are on the same page when it comes to their well-being while helping them to accept and adjust to the divorce.

Follow these six tips to write a parenting plan that shows the court you are taking the proper steps to do what’s in your child’s best interests.

Put Children First

Look at the day-to-day custody through your child’s eyes. That requires putting emotion aside and focusing on what your kids really need for stability. Verywell Family, a website that provides advice on parenting, suggests looking at their daily lives to see how it looks from their point of view. Will they be able to keep attending school and current activities? Will they miss certain events or activities? What will they gain from the custody arrangement?

Consider Mitigating or Limiting Factors

Both of you must consider any mitigating or limiting factors which might impact the placement of the children and their contact with the non-placement parent. You must also look at abuse or other behavioral issues and how they could negatively impact your kids. Sometimes, it is behavior or special needs of the children themselves that influence how the court ultimately considers when issuing the final order of parenting.

Create a Schedule

Plan to create a parenting schedule in Washington state. This schedule will show who has custody of the children on a day-to-day basis. The plan explains how much time your children will spend with of you. Remember to indicate who will have the kids on birthdays, vacations, holidays and during other events, too. Include information on how you both plan to follow the schedule, such as by using online calendar apps such as Talking Parents or Cozi.

Cover Other Needs

Decide in writing who will pay for what when it comes to expenses related to extracurricular expenses and events, such as birthdays, going to camp, entertainment, etc. Also include how you and your co-parent plan to handle big decisions, such as religious choices and events, discipline, education and health issues. Explain how you’ll work out major disagreements.

Consider a Relocation

In Washington state, your plan must include an explanation of what happens if you or your co-parent want to move with the child. For more information on Washington’s Relocation Law, visit Washington LawHelp.

Consider a Do-It-Yourself Plan

We offer a do-it-yourself Parenting Plan that was developed in 2017 as a Washington State Mandatory form. The plan is included in our Divorce Forms Kit with Children and our Legal Separation Kit, among others (click here to see all of our Family Law kits). You may prefer to hire an attorney who can help you create a parenting plan. Click here to see a list of attorneys who handle these types of cases.

This blog post is not offered as specific advice, which may only be provided by an attorney based upon each individual situation. To find an attorney, click here to visit our attorney referral page

Eviction Checklist: What You Need to Know to Evict a Tenant in Washington State

Use this eviction checklist to evict a tenant in Washington State.

Are you a landlord who wants to evict a tenant? Use our eviction checklist to learn what you need to know to evict a tenant in Washington state. The first step is to know the tenant/landlord laws so you know what’s legal and illegal. Secondly, identify the legal reason for the eviction, and finally, you’re ready to prepare an eviction notice.

Understand State Law

Look up Washington’s official state statutes to find out what’s applicable in our state. Look for the Landlord and Tenant Act,. available from the Washington State Attorney’s office. You can also visit Landlordology’s website to get started. You’ll want to read up on how to handle security deposits, including pet deposits and damages to the house or unit. Understanding what is and isn’t allowed when collecting rent, giving notices, entering the unit, handling late fees and providing receipts are also important.

Read Up on Local Ordinances

Besides reading up on Washington’s tenant/landlord state laws, you must also become familiar with county and city ordinances. For instance, if your rental is in Seattle, visit the city’s City Hall website page at Seattle.gov.

Understand Valid Reasons for Eviction

You need a legal reason to evict a tenant in Washington state. You also need to give fair notice. Acts such as the tenant’s failure to pay rent, violating the lease, causing damage or creating safety hazards are just a few of the reasons you can evict a tenant. Money rashers says you can also evict a tenant if they stay after the lease expires. They recommend understanding state requirements on handling minor infractions and how much time you must give the tenant to correct infractions before pursuing an eviction.

Don’t Do These Things!

According to RentPrep, there are several things you cannot do legally to evict a tenant in Washington state, including changing the locks or moving the tenant’s belongings. RentPrep also says it is illegal to turn off the tenant’s utilities or make threats against them.

Prepare an Eviction Notice

Once you decide to evict a tenant in Washington state, you need to fill in a complete set of Washington state eviction forms in order to create the notice. We offer a kit that contains all forms required as well as additional forms and procedures for creating an eviction in the City of Seattle. Instructions are included, making this a relatively easy way to keep costs down while filling in and filing the paperwork yourself to start the eviction process. You can buy this kit as an instant download and use it immediately. Or order a print copy we’ll mail to you. The kit includes a Procedural Information Sheet that provides:

Landlord Storage of Personal Property of Tenant Information
Seattle Landlord – Tenant Laws & Washington State Regulations, with information for Tenants
Acknowledgement – Seattle Landlord-Tenant Laws
Notice to Pay Rent or Quit Premises
Notice to Conform to Obligations of Tenancy
Notice to Conform to Obligations of Tenancy – City of Seattle specific
Notice to Terminate Tenancy
Notice to Terminate Tenancy – City of Seattle specific
Case Assignment Designation
Case Information Sheet
Complaint for Unlawful Detainer (Residential)
Eviction Summons
Payment or Sworn Statement Requirement
Motion and Affidavit for Order to Show Cause
Order to Show Cause
Affidavit of Service
Plaintiff’s Motion and Declaration for Order of Default
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law; Judgment; and Order for Writ of Restitution
Writ of Restitution
Order of Default
Declaration re: Service Members Civil Relief Act
List of free legal clinics, if you need help filling out forms

This blog post is not offered as specific advice, which may only be provided by an attorney based upon each individual situation. To find an attorney, click here to visit our attorney referral page

Got a Pre-Nup? Strange Pre-Nup Clauses for Your Consideration!

Taking the time to write a pre-nup just makes sense.

Wedding bells are in the air! Seems like the perfect time to re-visit the world of strange pre-nups. Officially known as pre-marital property agreements, a pre-nup often covers more than who gets what if the marriage ends. Some even cover what happens while the marriage is ongoing!

No one wants to think about pre-nups in the rosy glow of love and bliss. And just because you want one doesn’t mean you think your marriage is headed for divorce before you even make it down the aisle. Even if you don’t have many assets today, a pre-nuptial can protect you down the road when you might be worth more and stand to lose a lot.

Here are a few interesting clauses to consider for your own pre-nup, courtesy of some famous celebrities who know the importance of protecting their assets.

Who Owns that Gift?

Diply, a social entertainment website, reports Britney Spears and Kevin Federline had a prenup that stated any gift of over $7,000 had to be accompanied by a legal document indicating who owned the gift. They aren’t the only ones to have this type of prenup. According to The Talko, an entertainment site geared for women, Kim and Kanye have a prenup that allows her to keep any gifts he gives her, even if the marriage fails.

Money for the Kids

Planning to have lots of kids together? WKYS 93.9 reports Beyonce and Jay Z have a prenup that says she gets $5 million for each child she gives birth to if they divorce. She’s up $15 million right now.

Money Per Year of Marriage

According to the Mirror, Katie Holmes convinced Tom Cruise to sign a pre-nup saying she would get paid $3 million for each year they were married. In the end, she received a total of $15 million for five years of marriage. Other celebrities include clauses that allow the other person to collect millions if they stay married for a specific length of time.

Adding a Cheating Clause

Being cheated on is no fun, so why not include a clause to make sure you pocket some money if your spouse cheats on you during the marriage? We’ve read about a few celebrity pre-nups where large sums of money were involved if one partner was caught cheating. Diply reports that Catherin Zeta-Jones gets $5 million if Michael Douglas cheats.

Use Paper

It’s a known fact that Amy Irving and Steven Spielberg made a prenup on a napkin. Guess what? A divorce court judge quickly threw that out as illegal, and Irving ended up getting half of Spielberg’s money in their divorce.

Appearance Stipulations

Want to control your spouse’s appearance during the marriage? Sounds harsh, but some celebrities include clauses in their pre-nups about their partner. For instance, how about Jessica Simpson’s purported nuptial from her husband that fines her if her weight goes above 135 pounds?

Dealing with In-Laws

Reader’s Digest described a prenup clause that said the mother-in-law was limited to joining the couple to just one night –– and no more –– on the couple’s vacations. Worried your spouse will be rude to your parents? Might be wise to include a clause that makes them pay every time they offend the in-laws.

Ready to make your own pre-nup? Instantly buy and download our Pre-Marital Property Settlement Kit/Pre-Nuptial Agreement by clicking here. You can also order a hard copy of the kit, and we’ll mail it to you.

This blog post is not offered as specific advice, which may only be provided by an attorney based upon each individual situation. To find an attorney, click here to visit our attorney referral page.

 

Vacating a Criminal Record in Washington State

Vacating a criminal record in Washington requires filing documents in court.

If a past criminal conviction could cause problems, you may be interested in vacating a criminal record. Clearing an old criminal record is a possibility in the state of Washington as long as you meet all requirements and file the proper court-required documents. Read on to learn about the process of vacating a criminal.

What Is Vacating?

The process of vacating a criminal record is also known as sealing a criminal record or filing for a vacation of a criminal record. If the court grants vacation of a criminal record, it means the record still exists, but its contents cannot be revealed or publicly viewed. In some cases, juvenile records can be destroyed as long as all requirements are met. Click here to read the requirements for vacating a criminal record.

Types of Crimes

Misdemeanors, gross misdemeanor and felony convictions may be vacated if you meet all of the requirements established by the state. Crimes such as sex offenses, pornography, driving under the influence or an attempt to commit a violent offense do not qualify for a vacation.

Reasons for Vacating a Criminal Record

You may need to pass a background check related to housing or employment, and a conviction could negatively impact those chances. Or you may want to obtain a passport or obtain special licenses, but the conviction may cause problems. According to Washington Law Help, if you have a vacated record, you may honestly answer that you were not convicted of a crime, and thus opening the door to more opportunities.

Qualifications

Vacating your conviction doesn’t happen automatically. You must meet certain qualifications. For example, a certain amount of time must have passed since the conviction. Plus, you cannot have any criminal charges pending in any municipal, state or federal court. In addition, you cannot have unpaid fines, fees or court ordered restitution. Other requirements also need to be met. Click here to read the full list of requirements for vacating a criminal record.

Filing Documents

You must fill out and file the correct forms with the court to start the process of vacation a criminal record. Since the forms are fairly straight forward, you may be able to complete them yourself. Click here to buy an instant download of a Misdemeanor Vacating/Sealing Criminal Records Kit. Click here to buy an instant download of a Felony Vacating/Sealing Criminal Records Kit. Click here to buy an instant download of a Records Sealing Kit – Juvenile. All of our kits contain the most recent forms required by Washington state courts.

If you feel you need the services of an attorney to help file the documents or to get advice about your quest to vacate a criminal record, click here to visit our lawyer referral pages.

Additional reading:

Click here to read the State of Washington’s ‘A Guide to Sealing and Destroying Court Records, Vacating Convictions, and Deleting Criminal History Records in Washington State.’

Got Your Digital Assets Covered? Five Things You Need to Know

Keeping track of login information is critical to preeserving your digital assets for the future.

Are you on Facebook? Do you use PayPal? Are some of your financial or shopping accounts online? Do you post family or personal photos to your social media pages or to the cloud? If so, you own digital assets.

If you suddenly have an accident or become too ill to handle your own personal affairs, a power of attorney can step in to handle things for you. But they can only do so much if you do not have a plan to handle the digital assets. Without a plan, your family could be buried in red tape for months, if not years, leaving your affairs in shambles.

What happens to your digital assets once you pass away? You could be leaving money and assets on the table that simply can’t be accessed without an incredible amount of effort by your loved ones. Sometimes those assets are of an emotional value, such as personal emails and family photos, and could be lost forever.

 

Rather than leaving your family or estate executor with a huge mess, use these tips to make sure your digital assets don’t get lost in the cloud forever.

What are Digital Assets?

Digital assets consist of any online account or file you store on your computer, smartphone or in the cloud. These accounts and files often require login information consisting of a username and password. Sometimes security questions are asked to verify your identity.

Types of Digital Assets

Here are a few of the digital assets to consider:

  • Financial – bank, investment and PayPal accounts.
  • Utility accounts
  • Healthcare – including medical history, prescriptions and insurance information
  • Photos, music, videos, books, artwork
  • Domain names and website hosting accounts
  • Personal and business email and mailing addresses
  • Shopping accounts
  • Cell phone accounts
  • Social media pages
  • Databases related to collectibles

Gather Login Information

The first step you must take is to create a list of login information for all of your accounts. Make sure to include the website address of the account, your user name or account number, password and any security questions or PIN numbers, if required.

Store Login Information Securely

Keeping your login information secure is critical. The simplest way is to create a password-protected document on your computer (make sure you back it up, too).

Even better – use an online password manager such as Dashlane or LastPass. Both companies offer encrypted security protocols to keep all of your login information safe. This also allows you to change passwords and update accounts without having to provide your executor with a new copy of the information each and every time you make a change.

Prepare Legal Documents

After you go to all of the work to gather your login information, don’t forget to share the information with your Power of Attorney or estate executor in case you can’t manage your own affairs. Click here to download a DIY General and Durable Power of Attorney, good in the state of Washington. Click here to buy a Will Kit (State of Washington). Both kits are available as instant downloads, or buy the print version, and we’ll mail to you.

Do We Offer Legal Advice? 5 Things Attorneys’ Information Bureau (AIB) Offers

We cannot offer legal advice, but our small team is ready to assist you with other services.

A common question we get when do-it-yourselfers come into our office is if we offer legal advice. Unfortunately, we do NOT offer legal advice. But here’s a partial list of what we do offer to both do-it-yourselfers and attorneys.

Help You Choose the Right Legal Form/Kit

Did you know…attorneys rely on us for legal forms and kits to fill in and submit to the court since we constantly keep all of the forms up to date per new court specifications?

You don’t have to be an attorney to use some of these forms. We also make a bunch of our legal kits available to non-lawyers, too. For non-lawyers, choosing the right kit to buy and fill in can save lots of time and money.

But you may have questions about which kit to buy. Many of our customers describe problems with tenants/renters (eviction kit), probate or civil lawsuit cases, and want to know which kit they need. Others want to know which divorce kit they need to fill out. We offer several to choose from, so tell us what the circumstances are, and we’ll recommend the right kit/forms. If you prefer to order our legal kits as an instant download, just call us at (206) 622-1909 to get an idea of which one is best for your needs, and then you can go to our website to order. Or head right to our Do It Yourself Legal Kits website by clicking here.

Lost? We Can Help!

Another common question we get is, “Where’s the clerk’s office?” We’ll gladly point the way, so stop by our window and we’ll give you directions. Our offices are located in Room C-603 of the King County Courthouse located at 516 Third Avenue in Seattle.

Retrieve Legal Documents

We have a legal researcher on staff who retrieves filed legal documents for a fee. Documents from King County as well as other counties can be retrieved, as long as the files have been uploaded online. We can then email the documents to you or messenger everything to your office. Here’s a list of the courts and other offices from which we can research and retrieve documents:

U.S. Federal Courts – District and Bankruptcy
Washington State Supreme Court
Washington State Court of Appeals
Superior Courts
District Courts
Municipal Courts
Auditor’s offices
Assessor’s offices
Vital Statistics
Law Libraries

If you’re an attorney, we recommend becoming a member, as our research fee is waived (a case access and per page copy fee still applies). Click here to find out how to become a member and to view the list of benefits.

Make Copies

If you’re an attorney who is a member of AIB’s Member Services, we offer access to photocopiers, computers and printers in our offices located in the King County Courthouse in downtown Seattle. You can also access our Wi-Fi and work in our office, so bring your laptop and wait out your next case in the courthouse in our comfortable office.

Notary Services

Once you fill in your legal forms, most require a notary signature. On your way to filing the documents with the Clerk, stop by our offices, and we’ll notarize them for you for a per document fee. We offer notary services Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., although we are closed from noon until 1:00 p.m. each day.

This blog post is not offered as specific advice, which may only be provided by an attorney based upon each individual situation. To find an attorney, click here to visit our attorney referral page.

Pre-Divorce: Preparing to Make the Announcement to Your Spouse

Do some pre-divorce groundwork, key to taking care of yourself.

Deciding to divorce your spouse can be a stressful and painstaking process. If you’re thinking about getting one, the key to getting through a divorce with your sanity still intact requires doing some groundwork before informing your spouse of the decision. Follow these pre-divorce tips to help make the road a bit easier.

 

Meet with a Financial Advisor

An article in USA Today recommends meeting with a financial advisor, especially if you haven’t been involved in your household’s finances. A financial advisor can help you create an exit plan that makes sure you have enough money to make ends meet once the divorce is finalized. They can also help you create a plan for surviving the divorce long-term, making sure you have enough money to pursue your goals and dreams.

 

Collect Paperwork

You’ll also want to collect paperwork, such as tax returns and bank and investment information, etc., so you know what assets are available. Tacoma and Pierce County Child Custody Lawyer Jason Benjamin suggests quietly gathering information before you tell your spouse you want a divorce so you get fair results when it comes to splitting assets. Click here to read Benjamin’s Tips on Preparing for Divorce.

 

Prep the Paperwork

The legal forms required to file a divorce can be completed without an attorney if your divorce is uncontested. We offer two types of kits for those filing in Washington state. One is a Divorce Forms Kit without Children, also referred to as a Dissolution Kit without Children. The other kit we offer is the Divorce Forms Kit with Children. Both kits contain all of the forms required in to file for an uncontested divorce. Each kit also contains instructions to guide you through the steps for filing the paperwork. Sometimes people buy one of these kits to get a better feel for what’s involved in a divorce and then hire an attorney to handle all of the legal paperwork.

 

Consider Hiring an Attorney

If your divorce is contested, you likely need to seek the services of an attorney. If you need to find an attorney, click here to take a look at the Family Law attorneys listed in our referral service. Before hiring an attorney, know what questions to ask so you find one with whom you can comfortably work. Click here to read our blog post about the questions to ask before you sign on the dotted line with a law firm.

Click here for tips on finding an attorney.

Landlord 101: What You Need to Know to Rent Property

Before you become a landlord, learn your rights as well as the tenant's to save trouble down the road.

Becoming a landlord sounds like a promising and lucrative venture. But before you buy a property or turn one into a rental unit, find out everything that’s involved. You might be surprised to find out that becoming a landlord is about a lot more than just gathering the rent checks and fixing a few things now and then.

Know What’s Involved

Do you really know what’s involved in becoming a landlord? You might be surprised by what you don’t know…and need to know. Check out this eye-opening article in Money listing 6 rookie mistakes to avoid when becoming a rental property owner. For starters, expect expenses to be higher with a rental unit compared to a residence. Depending on where you buy the property, you also could end up paying special taxes, higher insurance rates and dealing with inspections that could turn into major costs if not done properly.

Review Local Law

Before you start renting the property, review your state, city, county and municipal rights as a landlord. And don’t stop there! Knowing a tenant’s rights can save you lots of trouble down the road. Check out the resources we provide for tenants and landlords in Washington state in our recent blog post.

Always Screen Applicants

Before you sign a rental agreement with the tenant, engage in some due diligence. In other words, screen all applicants to determine their ability to pay the rent on time. Money Crashers suggests running a background check and contacting previous landlords to determine an applicant’s suitability. Click here to read Money Crashers’ full list of questions to ask and what to check for.

Be Ready for Eviction

No one wants to think about eviction, but it happens. Preparing and serving an eviction notice protects your rights as a landlord. We offer an eviction kit, complete with all of the forms you need to file and serve the eviction notice, at DoItYourselfLegalKits.com. Click here for more information about eviction kit – the kits are available as an instant download, or you can order a print version we’ll mail to you.

Prepare a Lease

Creating a simple lease agreement sounds easy. But an informative article at CBS News recommends hiring an attorney who specializes in real estate. That way, your rental agreement is in compliance with local and state laws and can’t be used against you when the tenant decides to leave. Click here to see our referral list of real estate attorneys.

 

Restore Gun Rights in Washington State: What to Know and How to Get Your Rights Back in Washington State

Do research and understand the law before you try to restore gun rights.

Maybe you made a bad choice when you were younger. Now you no longer have the right to own a firearm. You want to restore gun rights. But if you live in the state of Washington, according to Wash. Rev. Code §§ 9.41.040(1)(a), (2)(a)(i), 941.070(1)(a), you cannot possess a firearm or get a license to carry a concealed pistol if you were convicted of a serious offense.

Unfortunately, once you lose your gun rights, they are not automatically restored later on. Instead, now that you’re older –– and hopefully, wiser –– you may want to review your rights and take the necessary steps to restore gun rights. Below, we provide links featuring information about this topic. We also provide a link to the legal forms you need to restore your gun rights.

Learn about unlawful possession of firearms.
Visit the Washington State Legislature website, RCW 9.41.040, Unlawful possession of firearms—Ownership, possession by certain persons—Restoration of right to possess—Penalties. This page helps explain the different scenarios in which your gun rights might have been revoked and will also help you determine if your gun rights can be restored.

Learn about sealing a juvenile record.
If you lost your gun rights as a juvenile, visit the Washington State Legislature website, RCW 13.50.260, Sealing hearings—Sealing of records, to determine the requirements for getting your rights restored. We provide a do-it-yourself Juvenile Criminal Records Vacating Form/Juvenile Expungement Kit you can buy, download, complete and file with the court.

Find out if you’re eligible to regain your gun rights if you received mental health treatment.
Visit the Washington State Legislature website to review RCW 941.047 Restoration of Possession Rights. This page explains the law regarding restoring firearm rights if you were convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Download our Restore Firearm Legal Form to restore gun rights.
This is a do-it-yourself legal form kit most people can complete on their own to restore their gun rights. The kit includes instructions and all of the legal forms you need to petition the court to restore your right to own a firearm. Choose from an instant download containing all of the legal forms you need (no special software required), or we can mail you a hard copy of the kit.