Understanding Estate Planning in Washington with Katharine Tate
By: Alina Warner
Katharine Tate is a Spokane Valley Native and East Valley High School graduate of the class of 2008. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Carroll College in 2012 and her Juris Doctor from Willamette University College of Law in Salem, Oregon.
While she was completing her Doctorate, Katharine worked at the International Human and Refugee Rights Clinic at Willamette University Clinical Law Program. She was also the editor and chief of the Willamette Journal of International Law and Dispute Resolution. Katharine also participated in the Shanghai China summer abroad program. After law school she also trained in sports management, completing an athlete management certificate from Sports Management Worldwide.
Meet Attorney Katharine Tate
East Valley High Grad
Specializes in Estate Law
Practices in Spokane
Offers Free Consults
*No attorney-client relationship is created by this ad, or your use of this ad. Neither your receipt of information from this ad, nor your use of this ad to contact Tate Law Offices, PLLC (hereinafter “the Firm”) or one of its lawyers creates an attorney-client relationship between you and the Firm. You will become a client of the Firm only if you sign an engagement agreement setting forth the scope of the Firm’s engagement, the fee arrangement, and other relevant matters. As a matter of policy, the Firm does not accept a new client without first investigating for possible conflicts of interests and obtaining a signed engagement letter.
Why Estate Law?
Straight out of law school, Katharine was hired at a family law firm in Pendleton, Oregon where she focused primarily on divorce and custody cases. This was very emotionally taxing for her. One of the other partners at the firm did a lot of estate planning and would often pass off these cases to Katharine. She really enjoyed these cases because she was able to focus on something that was helpful to people and not things that were essentially tearing families apart.
When she chose to move back to Spokane, Katharine decided to open her own practice and focus on the cases that she really enjoys – Tate Law. People do not like thinking about their mortality, so estate planning can be difficult for individuals to think about and complete. However, it is something that is so important for families after the death of a loved one. These estate plans can help offer a bit of closure in a difficult time.
Services Offered by Tate Law
Katharine offers many services, and you can learn more about each of them on her website. Her most popular package and the one she recommends that everyone should complete is her Basic Package. The Basic Package is a basic will-based plan. It includes: wills, financial power of attorneys, medical power of attorneys, medical directives (living will), and HIPAA authorization forms. Everyone over the age of 18 should have all of these documents in place in case of an accident. Depending on personal situations, you might need more than these documents, but this is a great place to start.
Protecting Your Family
In times of crisis and emergency, you do not want your family having to decide what to do with your care. Family should be able to focus on their loved ones, and not worrying about what end-of-life care you wanted because it was not something you had ever discussed. Having these documents in place protects your wishes over how you are cared for at the end of your life, as well as, protects your family from having to make those difficult decisions for you. Emergency situations are bound to cause some elevated emotions, stress, and anxiety. The best way to protect your loved ones is by ensuring that important decisions are made before a catastrophic event rather than leaving it to them to stress over in a crisis.
Basic Recommended Services for Families and Individuals:
- A Will
- Financial Power of Attorney
- Medical Power of Attorney
- Medical Directive (Living Will)
- HIPAA Authorization Form
How to Get Started
Katharine recommends having a conversation with your spouse before the appointment to discuss general wants. One major area that you might consider discussing is who would take care of your children if both of you were to die. This is not a requirement to have completed before your appointment, but it will help the appointment along.
The initial consultation with Tate Law is always free and typically takes one hour, but can take up to two hours depending on the complexity of your needs. During this consultation, she will talk about family dynamics, finances, and dive into any other issues that can have an impact on your services. Having a conversation with your spouse can make this discussion with Katharine go quicker, but, again, is not essential to complete beforehand as she will ask all of these questions during the initial meeting. The entire process from initial consultation to completed documents is usually a month to a month and a half.
When you are married, you believe that your spouse will always choose what is best for you and your family as a whole. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. For example, if one parent passes before the other and they only had a will, it is possible that the living parent could rewrite the will and cut the children out of it.
There are provisions that can be made within a will to prevent this, but in a blended family a revocable trust is often more appropriate. This is essentially a freeze on half of the estate that is associated with the deceased spouse to ensure that those funds go to the people who the deceased had chosen in their will. The other half then is allocated to the living spouse to continue to do with what they will. Working with an attorney like Tate Law is important because she can look at your family’s personal situation and determine which documents you need in order to best protect your family and your assets.
When asked about the price range for services, Katherine Tate shared that it is such a difficult question to answer because of the complexity of each family’s dynamics as well as each attorney has different price points. Tate Law has had customers who come in and explicitly state that they are shopping around to find the best deal for them. There is no harm in finding the right attorney to meet your needs. These decisions are huge for your family, and you need to be confident in who you choose to work with and how much you want to spend to feel comfortable with everything in the end.
Another thing to consider when you are looking for an attorney to provide these services, is to look at the attorney’s completion time frame. Some attorneys, like Katharine, can guarantee a certain shorter time frame, others will give no time frame at all. You need to decide how much time you want to wait on your documents to be processed as well.
Tate Law’s estate planning is a flat rate. After the initial free appointment, Katherine will give the total for what it would cost. Many services may have an hourly rate, and some attorneys will charge hourly for estate planning. Tate Law chooses to give a flat rate so you know exactly how much you will owe when everything is all said and done.
Must-Have Services for Everyone
Of course, every person and every family has different incomes, needs, etc. When asked what everyone should save for regardless of income, Katharine answered a will at the very least should be priority. A Power of Attorney would be next on the list.
If there is a low income single parent with one individual child, and the parent wants all the assets to go to the child, the State of Washington is going to do that anyway so you wouldn’t necessarily need a will in that case. For that individual, a power of attorney would be the first priority Tate Law recommends.
Since each family has such unique needs, going to an attorney like Katharine would be beneficial. She would be able to answer any questions you may have about what exactly you should prioritize for your family during your first free consultation.
Don’t Assume Anything
You may think, “If I die, everything goes to my spouse.” This is not always the case in the State of Washington. Any community property that was obtained during the marriage would indeed go to the surviving spouse. However, if this is a second or third marriage and one or both parties is bringing in assets from prior marriages that would not only go to the spouse.
Katharine gave an example where a spouse had assets prior to the marriage. If the couple had children, half the assets would go to the children and the other half would go to the surviving spouse. If they do not have children, three-quarters would go to the surviving spouse and one quarter would go to the parents of the spouse who passed (or siblings if the parents had already passed as well).
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