Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Estate Planning

Q: What is the difference between a durable power of attorney and a medical power of attorney?

A durable power of attorney is a written authorization you give for someone (an agent) to act on your behalf should you become incapacitated.  A durable power of attorney can be general or limited.  A general durable power of attorney allows your agent to act on your behalf in any legal matter that would otherwise have been done by you, such as pertaining to finances, business, or property.

A medical power of attorney is a limited durable power of attorney.  A medical power of attorney allows your agent or proxy to make decisions on your behalf only pertaining to your medical care.  If you should ever become incapacitated and require medical care, your agent will have the ability to follow your wishes to the best of their ability, communicate with your medical providers, and make medical decisions along the way on your behalf.   

Q:    How long does probate last?

A:    Probate is a process that requires at least four months to complete. The four month period is to cover a creditor’s period. Realistically, one can count on the probate lasting at least six months, which would include the four months creditor’s period.

Q:    What is probate?

A:    Probate is a process where the legislature has provided a mechanism for providing a full accounting of the deceased’s estate, and the transfer of that estate to the deceased person’s heirs. The estate could include real property, bank accounts, operating businesses, stocks and personal property, to name but a few categories. The estate would include all of the assets, as well as the liabilities owed by the person at the time of their death. This probate process can involve the probate of a Will that was prepared before the person died, or can be an administration of the estate so that the estate can be devised unto the heirs as designated by the statute in Washington. The best analogy may be that preparing a Will is like writing down the recipe for a cake. Probate is the gathering, mixing and baking of all those assembled ingredients as required by 

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