Larson Law , PLLC, practices in the fields of elder law, special needs planning, and estate planning. We work with our clients to find the best possible solution for each client’s unique situation and goals. We have one Olympia location, but we also make home visits. Here are some of the services we provide:
A durable power of attorney for health care lets you identify another person to make health care decisions for you if you become unable to communicate what you want. Normally, a durable power of attorney for health care only takes effect if you become incapacitated and only lasts for as long as you are unable to communicate your own decisions.
A durable power of attorney for finances is a legal document that lets you identify another person to make financial decisions for you if you become ill or injured and you can't take care of your own finances. With a durable financial power of attorney, you name a trusted person to pay bills, make bank deposits, watch over investments, collect insurance or government benefits, and handle other money matters on your behalf. Without this important document, your loved ones will have to go to court to get authority over your financial affairs.
A living will (also known as a health care directive) is a legal document that is a type of "advance directive" that describes in advance for health care professionals and loved ones what type of medical treatments you want, if any, to prolong your life if an accident or undiagnosed life threatening illness occurs and you are unable to communicate your wishes. A living will only comes into effect when you are near death. All adults should have a living will. Also, it is important not only to have this document but to have a verbal conversation about your wishes with loved ones and agents so that you can tell them of your wishes in advance. Few people like to talk about or think about these things. But having this discussion in advance can lift a heavy burden off of those you love if the unthinkable happens.
A mental health advance directive (MHAD) is a written document that describes in advance your directions and preferences for treatment and care during times when you are having difficulty communicating and making decisions. It can inform others about what treatment you want or don’t want, and it can identify a person called an “agent” whom you trust to make decisions and act on your behalf.
“Long-term care” means the type of care you need if you have a prolonged physical illness, disability or severe cognitive impairment (such as Alzheimer’s disease) that keeps you from living independently. As a result, you need assistance carrying out basic self-care tasks. Nearly one in two women and one in four men find themselves in nursing homes at some point in their lives. The need for a nursing home lasts an average of three years. The cost of nursing home care averages between five and eight thousand dollars per month and continues to climb ever higher. Worse, Medicare will not pay for it, which explains, in part, why two out of three families run out of money within the first year of a prolonged nursing home stay. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to qualify for Medicaid assistance without having to "spend down" all your assets.
A will is a gift you leave your family or loved ones. It is a gift because it makes the management of your estate very clear and far easier. If you don't have a will, the state will decide what happens to your assets, your dependent children, and your financial legacy. With a will, you can do several important things that will make the lives of your loved ones easier when you die:
Decide who will get your property.
Decide who will be the personal representative, also known as an executor, who will wrap up your estate.
Name a guardian to take care of your minor children. Even if you don’t need a will for any other reason, if you have minor children, you should make a will. Otherwise, when you die, a court will decide who should care for your kids.
Name someone to manage any property you have left to your minor children. Property left to children must be managed by an adult. When you leave property to your children (through a will, trust, or life insurance or other beneficiary designation) you can leave instructions about how that property should be managed, typically through a trust or through the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act.
Name someone to care for your pet. You can also leave money to that person to help care for your pet.
If you have a relative you are responsible for who has a physical or mental disability, that person's receipt of government benefits may be jeopardized if you leave them a portion of your estate outright after you die. A correctly written trust can avoid this. Additionally, a trust is preferable if they may not be able to handle financial responsibilities. It also is generally unwise to leave money to other relatives or to friends on the promise they will care for your disabled relative because those assets may be unintentionally diverted by divorce, bankruptcy or death of the person you counted on. Another danger is that the person you counted on will ignore your wishes or will be unable to fulfill them; as a result, such morally obligated gifts are not advisable. There are many types of trusts, all of which may have special needs provisions. A third party or grantor trust is created and funded by a person other than the trustee or the beneficiary. A “self-settled” trust is created from the funds belonging to the beneficiary. A pooled trust is owned and administered by a not-for-profit organization and the funds at death may stay with the “pool” of funds to help others in the pool. In Washington, trustees of court ordered trusts have reporting duties to the court. Money or property in this type of trust does not count toward the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid resource limits of $2,000 for an individual. Money paid directly to the providers for items other than the person’s food and shelter does not reduce SSI payments.
Second marriages can present some challenges when it comes to planning how to support your current spouse after you die, while preserving some of your estate for your children from the prior marriage. A QTIP trust is one option to make sure there is something left for your children after your current spouse dies. Also, if your estate or your spouse's estate exceeds the state or federal estate tax limit, special language in such a trust can enable the trustee to make full use of any state and/or federal estate tax exemption for each of you.
For first marriages of couples whose assets potentially exceed the state or federal estate tax thresholds, a disclaimer (aka bypass) trust is a flexible approach that enables the surviving spouse to decide whether, at the time of the first spouse's death, estate taxes are a potential issue upon the death of the surviving spouse. A disclaimer trust can enable the couple to save thousands of dollars in estate taxes, which results in more assets passing to their heirs.