Stephen Waltar from Legacy Estate Planning in Bellvue, WA discusses the importance of estate planning. People think because we’re a community property state that they don’t need to plan, they own things, they think everything automatically goes to your spouse, but then they start adding their daughter to their bank account, or their son to their brokerage account, and all of a sudden there are these messes. People get caught up with title mistakes all the time. Let’s say the son gets in a car accident and gets sued. Mom and dad can lose their account to their son’s creditors. It’s the trouble with joint tenancy. If you try to do estate planning thinking you don’t need a will or trust or an attorney, deciding that you’ll just add your son to this account, then you’re adding his creditors or perhaps later his divorcing spouse, which could threaten these assets.
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*The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
This is a special presentation of answers for elders with legacy estate planning with Stephen Waltar. Well, happy Saturday everyone. It’s money in law week. It answers for elders radio and I have a very special guest with me, Mr. Stephen Waltar, and he’s with legacy estate planning in Bellevue. Steve, welcome to the program glad to be here. You know, I am glad that you’re here because one of the things that we have to talk about is at the end of our lives and you know, our parents have assets and there’s a lot of situations that you know, especially if mom and dad have assets. There’s a lot of questions about that whole field and I think, Steve, you’re going to be here to give us some clarity on that. Yeah, yeah, people think because we’re a community property state, they don’t need to plan. They get they own things, they figure everything’s automatically to the spouse, but then they start adding their daughter to their bank account or their son to their brokerage account and all of a sudden there’s these messes. So people get caught up with title mistakes all the time. So, for example, if mom and dad still live in a house. I’m just throwing out a hypothetical question and all of a sudden a power of attorney or you know, a son or daughter gets added to an account. All of a sudden they’re part of the process. Then they’re like yeah, there’re a co-owner. Here’s the worst scenario is they add son or daughter to an account and maybe it’s a significant account that has checked right. Here’s a brokerage account and son is going to a mariner game and he’s in a car accident and he sued. They mom and dad can lose their account to son’s creditor. So that’s called the trouble with joint tendency. I’ve got a whole report on that. That’s you know, it’s up on my website. People can go to waltarcom and they can download the trouble with joint tendancy. That’s powerful. Yeah, you know, it’s interesting. This is just a side note. Is and I’m sure the whole liability factor is there. I know that. On a whole other topic, I heard a story where there was a non licensed bonded care person that had come in for off of cliff craigslist to somebody’s house and, Lo and behold, that person was helping that person into the bathtub and next thing we knew they got a back injury and had to have back surgery and they sued the parent, they sued the person that they were helping. Yeah, yeah, litigious society and him. I’m an attorney here, but I think we have too many lawsuits. So husbands and wives, they’re already liable for one another’s death right. Real danger I see is when someone tries to do cheap estate planning on the cheap. Oh, I don’t need a will or trust, I don’t need to see an attorney, I’ll just add my son to this account. Then you’re adding their editors or potentially they’re divorcing spouse. My three you, you could lose the the the parents could lose the assets. So that’s the biggest problem I see. But the second thing that that husband’s wife’s get involved. If, if a husband and wife are married and they own a home and husband dies, what he supposed happens to the home? I would assume probate. Well, you’re right, and most people don’t presume that. They think, oh, wouldn’t automatically go or community property state. Well, you’re on title. You got a dead person’s name on title with a survivor, no one’s going to bump them from the house. But you can’t sell, retitle, you can’t do things till you get a letter testamentary. That’s a catch phrase for a probate. So it’s a legal process that sometimes people don’t do it the year of death. It may be a decade later and we have to probate the estate. You know, this is a thing. I know that that you know, when we when we’re our parent passes away, there’s so many things that happen that we’re not prepared for and certainly there’s a lot of things that use Steve can help us with. So a lot of those pitfalls don’t happen after actually had pass some clients in today, well, earlier this week, probably the best way to talk about that, and they they had the I love you honey will. A lot of people want to say I love you honey, it’s all yours, but there would be a probate. There would be a probate to get it there. For this couple it made sense that I did a community property agreement and that’s an agreement that works in Washington to say survivor really does get it all with no court. So that Short little document can save thousands and thousands of dollars and months of time and court. You know, it’s amazing, isn’t it? It’s amazing that. But it doesn’t happen by living here Ya, because you sign a legal document, a contract that’s drafted by an attorney, you can’t download that one. Yeah, we all think that, quote unquote, like my husband and I, we you know. I know that there’s so many different things. If whatever he signs for. I know partly I’m like, I’m legal for right, and that probably is the same situation scenario, you know, as far as assets go. Let me jump to something really cool here, and that is that so many people, through through death, do us part and this and that I mean they know you want to provide for your spouse, you love your spouse, but my question is often how do you love your spouse? Because if you give everything out right to your spouse, what if they remarry or what if they are sued? You haven’t protected them. But if you give in trust for them, you can protect them. Right, you can protect essentially the children and sometimes people are, you know, burning up their assets and their biggest asset might be their home. And if the survivor needs care, then Medicaid. The state’s going to put a lean on the house. Right, and with proper planning we could actually have a special kind of trust that would be a safe harbor that would say no, the state can’t go after that home and the survivor could keep living in the home. But if they need care, at least you don’t have to spend down and the state just can’t go after it. Right. It just doesn’t happen automatically, you know. Right. So when I meet with a couple in particular, I ask a lot of questions about what do they want to happen if this if out of you know, the other right, right. So we’re talking to Stephen Waltar. He is here from a legacy estate planning in Bellevue and we are talking about property and assets today and most, certainly most of us own a home, we probably have some investments, we have different things that we will own with our spouses and maybe we’re on accounts with our parents, etc. So Steve is here to kind of clear a lot of the red tape. What weird you know that what we’re dealing with, and obviously there’s a lot of just because my husband and I might own a house doesn’t necessarily mean that I would be or he would be the sole owner of the home unless there was some sort of documentation in place. Well, yeah, and the other thing is if there was incapacity, sure and you needed to even refund an answer, borrow, you can’t legally sign for one letter unless you have a power of attorney. Now talk about incapacity. You talked about, you know, a trust. I think it’s called a special needs trust. Is that correct? What they what the term is used. Is that right? Am I not for a spouse really and my special needs is if you’re trying to make sure you don’t cut off governmental benefits. Okay, okay, I did mention that. A living trust is a little bit like a power of attorney, where someone has the ability to sign and do things. Okay, okay, so if I becoming incapacitated and my spouse is still, you know, vibrant, how what’s the best way? But best course of action, the best thing is to have already done your documents right planning before, because if you wait until there’s incapacity. Your husband can’t sign for you. Now he has to go to court do a guardianship. There’s thousands of fees, it’s invasive, it’s humiliating, etc. So it’s just just being a responsible person. And you know, if you have some assets, then you want to it’s like insurance. Do Your Powers Attorney, do your estate planning before you lose capacity. And if I if it’s too late, then don’t you have to go for a guardianship or something like that in the court right and that is costly. It’s costly, it’s time-sucking, it’s very embarrassing because you know a third party gets to investors to gate and have subpoena powers and report to the court and it’s it’s it’s a pain, it’s crazy. It’s crazy. So everyone out there, you need to do your upfront taking care of business and so and see incapacity. Some we are started with us with assets right assets. People get into problems because they start adding people to account. So they shouldn’t much better to give a power of attorney. They could manage that asset for you, but they’re they don’t own it, they don’t know it. So that means their creditors are not your problem. But even if you don’t have a lot of assets, you least need healthcare powers of attorney, because we all, all of us that are alive, we want care for ourselves, our bodies. We want the right people making choices and we last thing we want is a free for all fight over those sorts of things when you know timing is of the essence. You know, I have to say the last decision I had to make on behalf of my mother was the healthcare directive. Yeah, I will never forget that conversation when three doctors came to me and said you have a choice, you know, keep her alive a little bit longer for low quality of life. She will be, you know, and in not very good situation, or we can initiate the whole term comfort care and let her slowly, you know, pass away. It is a it is a wrenching decision, but you know, there was a piece of mind that I had that healthcare directive. I knew that, I knew my mom’s heart, I knew what she would want to do, and there’s a huge different thing that you would have tried to do what was right, no matter what exactly, but that she had some document listing exact push comes to show she wanted you making that call and I never thought I would be put in that scenario, you know, I it’s not anything that we think about, and yet there was, and it was the last major decision, obviously, I made on behalf of her. When my grandma was dying, my folks flew up from Texas, they were out of state, and they say, do you have power of attorney? And you know, do you have? You know is they’re living. Will you want on pluggers as well? I I yes, I am power of attorney, but I’m not doing anything till I see her. And they went and they saw her and they got time with her and they sang hymns with her and they decided not to plug her into an IV and she actually did physically die while they were there, but she kind of lifted up her arm, even though she was in a comma, like Jesus was welcoming her home. So it worked properly in that state exactly. And that’s the thing. It’s like. It’s listening to your heart and knowing that you you know. If you’re entrusted with that role, as I was, it was one of the most important decisions, obviously, that I ever made in my life, but it’s something that I felt, you know, my mom entrusted me with it. It wasn’t one of the most honorable things, I think, that she ever did for me in and recognizing that she did take care of me, and that’s why I have a living will where I say I don’t want my kids or my wife or anyone to feel like a sense of guilt, like they pulled the plug on me. I’ve already said what happened to that circumstance. But then there’s also a healthcare power. There’s also a hipoform. I mean these things all kind of cooperate with one another act correct. So, Steve, how do we reach to AH? Best way to reach me is four to five, four five five sixty seven eighty eight. Four to five, four five five, sixty seven, eighty eight, or you can go out to the website and that’s www.waltar.com. And Steve is right, and downtown bell the very easy to get to and free parking. Yeah, free bargain. Thanks for being on the program, Steve. It was great having you. Thank you. This has been a special presentation of answers for elders with the legacy estate planning with Steven Waltar. For more information for legacy estate planning, go to waltar.com. That’s waltar.com.
Suzanne Newman, host of the Answers for Elders radio show and podcast, proclaims often, “Caring for my mom was the hardest thing I ever have done, but it was also my greatest privilege.” Following a career of over 25 years in sales, media, and marketing management, Suzanne embarked on a 6-year-journey caring for her mother. Her trials and tribulations as a family caregiver inspired an impassioned life mission outside of the corporate world to revolutionize the journey that so many other American families also find themselves on. Answers for Elders provides education, help, and support to families, caregivers, and seniors across the country who are experiencing their own unique journey within the complicated world of Eldercare. Each week, Suzanne is joined by vetted professional experts in over 65 categories including health & wellness, life changes, living options, money, law, and more. Suzanne lives in Edmonds, Washington with her husband, Keith, and their two doodle dogs, Whidbey and Skagit.