Case Studies & News
The Case of Martin Minarik
In this complex probate we had no body and no death certificate. Martin Minarik, a well-known mountain climber, is still missing on Annapurna. We were able to persuade the court of the necessity of the probate by proving he had died on the mountain.
We utilized a well-known Seattle climber as an expert witness and a statement from Martin’s climbing partner who did not see him fall, but who had proceeded ahead of him and then on return was unable to locate him.
His death was not proven until after the deadline for filing the estate tax return, Form 706 NA, so penalties were assessed and ultimately removed on appeal. The case presented unique probate and tax issues as he was a citizen of the Czech Republic, his beneficiaries all lived in Canada, he owned property in Seattle under foreclosure, and he ran a business from Seattle.
We are a global society and our clients live and travel all over the world. Each client has unique needs which will often involve coordination between our estate planning in Washington State and their estate planning in another country.
We enjoy working collaboratively with our clients and their attorneys in other countries to make sure all assets are protected.
We have coordinated with clients’ attorneys in South America to accomplish the sale of real property, reviewed a condo purchase in Mexico, and addressed issues related to Canada, Ecuador, England and Poland.
Community Property Transfers
Many spouses, including domestic partners, come to us for estate planning whose estates are under $2,193,000 and may choose to execute a Community Property Agreement, with backup wills, which transfers all the assets covered by the agreement to the surviving spouse without a probate.
After the death of one spouse, we will meet with the surviving spouse and advise him her or them how best to accomplish the transfer of assets using the Community Property Agreement. We assist in recording the document, review retirement and IRA beneficiary options, advise on the proper inventory and appraisal of assets. Frequently, we will draft new estate planning documents to address his/ her/their changed circumstances.