As a Jimmy Buffett fan, I’ve long enjoyed his iconic song “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes.” The familiar chorus wisely observes, “It’s those changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes, nothing remains quite the same.” Although Jimmy Buffett may not have had Chapter 11 of the Revised Code of Washington in mind when he wrote these lyrics, his prediction that “nothing remains quite the same” certainly holds true for our state’s estate planning, probate and guardianship laws.

One big change that we’ve discussed in a prior blog post is the new authorization for electronic Wills in Washington. Another change is significant for trustees. On January 1, 2022, the Uniform Fiduciary Income and Principal Act comes into effect, replacing the 2002 Washington Principal and Income Act. The new Act has various twists and turns in relation to trust accounting, unitrust conversion rules and new rules to help avoid jurisdictional disputes.

The Uniform Powers of Appointment Act also becomes effective on January 1, 2022, and provides more detailed rules in relation to powers of appointment than previously provided in RCW Chapter 11. A power of appointment is typically granted in a trust and gives a person (usually a beneficiary) the power, which can be subject to certain limitations, to designate a recipient of any remainder in their share of the trust assets on their death.

On July 25, 2021, several revisions to our Washington probate statutes become effective. These changes impact aspects of probate including the conditions under which a personal representative can be removed and the types of actions that a personal representative with non-intervention powers has the authority to take. The information required to be included in the Declaration of Completion of Probate and the Notice of Filing the Declaration of Completion have both been changed.

The homestead exemption rules set forth in RCW 6.13.030 have changed dramatically, and these changes are effective immediately by emergency order. A homestead exemption is tied to our family award statutes that can be found at RCW Chapter 11.54, which are designed to provide financial protections for the surviving spouse, surviving domestic partner or children of the decedent.

The legislature repealed the Uniform Directed Trust Act of 2015 and replaced it with a new Act, which is already effective. A directed trust allows a person other than the trustee to have authority over certain specified details of the trust’s administration. Additionally, our state’s guardianship laws were repealed and replaced by the Uniform Guardianship Act. Parts of this Act are already effective, and other parts will become effective on January 1, 2022.

Despite COVID-19, our Washington legislature was quite busy this session! Jimmy Buffett’s observation that “nothing remains quite the same” has certainly proven true in this instance. Like most estate planning and probate law firms, we are focused on getting ready for these new changes. The one thing you can count on: nothing remains quite the same.

We will be discussing some of these changes in more depth in future blog posts. Do you have any questions about these new legislative changes? Please let us know. We’d be happy to help.

This post is for informational purposes and does not contain or convey legal advice. The information herein should not be used or relied upon in regard to any particular facts or circumstances without first consulting with an attorney.

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