Got Wills? Got Red? Get Both! by Albert Coke Roth, III, Esq. Law Wine & Law There are numerous ways to divest of property after death, however, the tried and true method for Washingtonians is the good ol' Will. Even if you got scared by some probate-phobic lawyer into buying one of those fancy, expensive Revocable Living Trusts, you still need a Will. The methods of distributing property upon death are old, real old; biblical tales from Genesis and other historically documented ancient procedures bequeathing this and devising that have been noted all over the globe. In fact, we, I mean you and me, have the world only because Noah gave it to us under a written Will, which I suspect we would miss had we been disinherited. Thus, the Will is the main course, the big dog,... the Steak of the Estate Plan. Before I take on the subject of what a Will is and why you should have one, please allow me to digress on Intestacy; dying without a valid written Will. All states have intestate distribution laws, and they are pretty much the same and pretty logical, actually. One of my law school professors said that in several areas of law, you can use the "Grandmother Rule" and you will find the basis of the law: Ask your Grandmother how she thinks things should happen and she will give you a good guesstimate of what the Attorney and international wine judge Coke Roth blends personality with GLBT legal insight & wine recommendations law should be...and such is the case with the laws of intestacy. If you die without a written Will, your property and money will go to your spouse, children, parents and siblings, the who, how much and when depending on several factors. And, if you don't have any immediate family left, your wealth goes to more remote descendants, like cousins, etc... all spelled out on this cool British-based graph called a "Consanguinity Chart", a chart depicting the up and down of your family tree. In the highly unlikely situation that you are totally alone on this planet and without anyone left on the Consanguinity Chart, your stuff "escheats" to the state, and the state will spend it wisely for you...ahem.... So, the good news is: you who have not committed your post-mortem desires to a valid writing, you have a Will by way of the state's laws of descent and distribution. The bad news is: intestate distribution rules will give your stuff to people, at times and in proportions that you may not want or otherwise do not make good sense. Suffice to say, you should go to a lawyer to see where your stuff will go, not if, but when, you croak, and if you are in the vast majority, you will want to make some pretty significant modifications to intestate will want a Will. By the way, oral Wills, called Nuncupative Wills and Holographic Wills, handwritten wills, have some goofy rules, so most often the estate is tossed back to intestacy. To make a Will, you need to have legal competency....eighteen years or older...not be under any undue influence, duress, menace, fraud, etc., and you must have mental capacity. In a previous article of LAW AND WINE, I laid out the Bottger Test for capacity, another one of those plagiarized British things, where the Testator/ Testatrix, the one who makes a Will, must comprehend the nature and extent of their property, Albert Coke Roth, III is the Principal of the Roth*Coleman Law Office in Kennewick, WA and is licensed to practice law in Washington and Oregon, practicing law in the areas of Estate and Relationship Planning, Business and Business Succession Planning and matters of Real Estate. You can contact Coke at (509) 783-0220 or , or visit . Coke is also an international wine judge, winery consultant, and a panelist for WinePress Northwest Magazine. 0 | February 2009 | Q View Northwest - Spokane Edition |