As an estate planning, trusts, and probate attorney, Lori Rath creates comprehensive and carefully tailored estate plans for her clients during their lifetimes, and provides thorough legal advice and oversight for trusts and the probate process after a death occurs. Lori also routinely represents clients in the process of negotiating property agreements, such as prenuptial agreements and domestic partnership agreements. Lori enjoys and is skilled at working with clients whose lives and circumstances vary widely in terms of factors such as age, financial resources, professional and business activities, and family makeup and complexity. Lori serves as the chair of Lasher’s Estate Planning, Trusts & Probate practice group.
Lori represents estate planning clients whose assets are diverse in both size and type. Throughout the estate planning process Lori identifies and addresses tax planning issues and opportunities, if appropriate, and works closely with clients to consider the uniqueness of individual assets and specific planning options. For example, Lori works with clients whose estates include assets such as oil and mineral rights, real property located in other states, foreign assets, vacation homes, royalties, professional practices, closely held businesses, and high-value artwork and collectibles. Lori is also competent at advising clients who wish to include charitable giving in their estate plans, using tools such as charitable trusts or structuring gifts for purposes such as establishing an academic scholarship program or endowment fund.
Many of Lori’s estate planning clients have “blended families,” a scenario that often raises particularly complex questions as clients seek to ensure that their current spouse or partner - as well as children from one or more prior relationships and the current relationship - are adequately provided for. Lori is skilled at guiding clients through this decision making process so that a suitable plan is established to address sometimes competing interests. Lori also often represents parents of young children, including children with disabilities, to develop an estate plan that contains appropriate support, safeguards, and instructions for the children’s care, consistent with the parents’ resources and values, in the event that neither parent is living.
Lori routinely works with gay and lesbian couples, both married and unmarried, to navigate the particularly unique and ever-changing legal landscape as it relates to the planning process for same-sex couples. In addition, estate planning is particularly important for single people and unmarried couples who do not have the same default legal protections that Washington law provides to married couples. Lori frequently works with such clients to craft estate plans that ensure that the client’s wishes are honored and that minimize the possibility of a dispute among family members after the client’s death.
With excellent support from the paralegal team at Lasher, Lori handles a variety of probate and trust administration matters, from relatively simple proceedings to more complex cases. For example, Lori handles estates involving complex debt and insolvency issues, disputes regarding the ownership of real property, and the sale or donation of valuable artwork and other collections. Many of Lori’s cases also involve serious conflict among family members, and Lori often represents clients in matters that fall within the Trust and Estate Dispute Resolution Act (TEDRA). The TEDRA matters in which Lori has successfully represented clients include:
• Served as court-appointed guardian ad litem for three minor beneficiaries when another family member contested the distribution of a trust the minors’ grandmother had established before her death; matter successfully resolved in mediation.
• Represented a beneficiary of a trust who sought to have a trustee appointed when all of the named trustees were either unwilling or unable to serve; client’s selected trustee was appointed by the court.
• Represented a surviving spouse whose wife died in a tragic accident after which other family members claimed an interest to a trust the wife’s aunt had established for her; case successfully concluded in mediation.
• Represented the trustee of an educational trust that had outdated and vague distribution requirements when serious disputes arose among the beneficiaries; case successfully concluded with negotiated, written TEDRA agreement.
Finally, Lori often represents clients in the negotiation process relating to prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements, and domestic partnership agreements. Throughout these proceedings, which are often especially challenging due to the complex emotional and practical matters that arise, Lori has successfully protected her clients’ interests while ensuring that fair and durable agreements are reached.