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Office Hours – Estate Planning (11/29/2023)

In this edition of KCLL’s Office Hours, we’re joined by local attorneys Evelyn Emanuel and April Benson to answer your questions about estate planning.

Office Hours is a recurring webcast where a panel of experts answer questions that attendees submit before the event.  You can see a list of upcoming events HERE.

Questions Addressed in this Hour:

  • 02:20 – Introductions
  • 05:03 – What IS estate planning?
  • 09:26 – Does a “durable power of attorney” include the right to make financial decisions?
  • 09:47 – What are some of the other popular estate planning instruments?
  • 12:36 – What is a living will?
  • 16:43 – What is a pour-over will?
  • 19:42 – What is a trust?
  • 21:19 – What is the difference between a trust and a life estate?
  • 28:38 – Can I change a revocable trust to an irrevocable trust?
  • 31:38 – How do you properly transfer property into a trust?
  • 36:51 – When is a special needs trust necessary? Are there alternatives?
  • 42:43 – What is the best option to leave assets to a disabled adult child while avoiding probate?
  • 43:47 – How can I pass life insurance proceeds into a minor’s trust?
  • 50:14 – How much of inheritance is tax-exempt?
  • 55:26 – What happens to a jointly held bank account when one of them dies?
  • 56:36 – How can I find a good lawyer to help me with my trust?

WTEW… in Small Claims Court (Part 3 – Mediation)

In Part 3 (of 5) on Small Claims Court, a District Court Judge explains what you can expect from mediation.

Video Highlights

  • 00:28 – Why do parties have to go through mediation?
  • 00:49 – What are some of the advantages of going through mediation?
  • 01:52 – What is mediation like?
  • 02:21 – What are the possible outcomes of mediation?
  • 03:05 – How long does mediation take?
  • 03:37 – What are some additional advantages of mediation?


Get Help With Protection Orders

Find the Right Help for Your Protection Order




The King County Domestic Violence Protection Order Advocacy Program helps people who need protection specifically from an intimate partner or spouse.




Seattle Unveristy’s Family Law Center helps people with domestic violence and other protection order situations.




WashingtonLawHelp.org has an online interview program which fills in the appropriate forms based on your answers to plain-language questions.




The King County Superior Court Clerk’s Civil Protection Order office is open for walk-ins and can provide you with free sets of the appropriate protection order paperwork.




It’s December! I have updated our KCLL Newsletter to the “winter theme” and am very much enjoying this snowy start to what is my favorite season. [I just looked and apparently some department head, King Winter, whoever, says that winter officially starts on December 21 (solstice). What a crock, right? If it were December 20th and you said, “What a lovely autumn day!” I would think you a psychopath and allow the widest berth possible… Winter obviously runs December 1 through the end of February.] Anyway, I love the cold, the rain, and the darkness, which I know is odd—I’ve heard it said that for someone who needs a compensatory reason to enjoy winter, they can think, “Well, you need the winter’s constant rain to have our amazing forests,” which is of course true, but I’m happy without such a justification.

That’s all to say, gratitude is on my mind. I’m grateful to see my warm breath in the morning. I’m grateful for personal and familial reasons that exceed the scope of this blog. And I’m grateful for my coworkers at the law library, who are kind and patient with me, and who are always a bastion of knowledge. Counting on my fingers and toes, between the six of us, we have 78 combined years of experience (with a tenure of less than three years, I’m obviously tanking the average tenure of ~13 years), which means that given any specific or oddball question, one of us has an answer, or a direction in which to look.

“But Ross,” you might ask, “would you stop dithering and tell us the precious Ref Q?” Well, the Ref Q is one simply answered, and frankly not the focus of today’s column in many ways:

I work for a bank that has foreclosed on a house. The [previous] owner won’t leave. Will your eviction packet work in this situation?

That’s the gist of the email I received. If you have some background in real property, the answer to this question is glaringly obvious. I’m going to spare you my research play-by-play to say: no, eviction is the process for booting someone when there’s a landlord-tenant relationshipejectment is the correct process for this situation, which is a special type of proceeding (akin to quieting a title) under RCW 7.28. It’s, from what I’ve read since, a lengthier process vs. eviction. It’s also fairly complicated, so the querier was encouraged to seek counsel. 

“But Ross,” you’re wailing through bitter tears, “what about the research lessons to be learned? Have you totally abandoned the thrust of this column?”

Rest easy, dear reader, because today’s lesson has arrived. I looked through our eviction packet, I looked through the Landlord-Tenant statutes, and I tried many search queries- to no avail. After a long while, I leaned over to ask a coworker and they immediately replied, “It’s ejectment, not eviction.” Again, this is probably obvious to those with a background, but I had never seen it before. My coworker had.

As I then read up on ejectment, I got a laugh out of the Washington Practice introduction on the topic (Real Estate: Transactions – Stoebuck/Weaver) and shared this quote with another coworker:

Not only that sentence and that section but the entire chapter are poorly organized, a patchwork quilt of several different actions, created at different times by the legislature and jumbled together in ways that often make it difficult to tell which provisions pertain to which actions.

That coworker replied, “Ejectment?”

And so, I’m grateful for institutional knowledge, a source of knowledge that I consistently fail to think of as foundational. It’s true that I often seek such input from my coworkers, despite my fear of being seen as an imposition—but it needs saying that for research purposes, people are as useful, if not more so, than any database. Relying on others is a good thing. Of course, something is gained in initially trying your own hand, and you should verify important information gained on your own, but there’s no use in beating your head against a wall when a colleague is happy to help.

My imagined, irate reader is now seething—was the point of this column really so obvious? To encourage asking for help? Yep! I’m a firm believer that the atomization of society won’t last, and there’s no future where we don’t embrace our need for one another. So go ahead, enter the hardware store and immediately flag down the nearest worker! Give yourself a shot on the assignment, but don’t fail to ask for your boss’ input! And if you’re at a research dead end, don’t hesitate to contact us at the law library! We’re happy to help.

Happy holidays!

HOW TO… Use Informal Family Law Trials (09/2022)

If you’re involved in a family law case, you may have the option of going through an INFORMAL trial – rather than the typical/formal type. There are plenty of differences, but the general idea is that if both parties agree to it, the actual trial an easier process for non-lawyers. This video will give you a quick introduction.

Video Highlights:

  • 00:36 – What IS an informal family law trial?
  • 01:16 – Can I speak directly to the judge?
  • 02:36 – What evidence does the judge consider?
  • 07:32 – What is the importance of the Case Schedule?
  • 08:15 – What is the pretrial conference order?
  • 11:17 – Who gets to ask questions?
  • 11:50 – Who can be a witness?
  • 13:48 – Can I ask the witness questions?

ROSS’ REF Q’S – Removing a discriminatory covenant



Welcome back to Ross’ Ref Q’s! We had our quarterly bye month in October to allow my ref q energies to recharge, but now ref q answering energy is radiating from my fingertips! This month’s ref q involves shame and deed recording:

How do I remove a discriminatory covenant on the deed of my house?

This was an emailed question. A new homeowner found out that the deed to their house contained a decades-old, racially-based restrictive covenant and ran up against the issue of deed recording. Deeds are passed hand to hand, with new recordings adding new information, but almost never altering what’s already written—it’s a recording, right?

But Seattle, King County, and much of the United States has a shameful history of restricting where people can live based off their ethnicity and race. While these types of covenants and discriminations were nominally made void decades ago, their depressive effects persist in the form of disparate rates of home ownership and generational wealth. At the same time, though these covenants are now unenforceable, they persist in the public record as recorded covenants.

Unenforceable as these covenants may be, I get why someone would want to distance their noxious history from the place they call home. But is altering the deed possible?

King County has a helpful guide for how to file a modification with the Recorder’s office. Their words: “Recording a modification document will provide notice in the land title records that the restrictive covenant is void and unenforceable. It will not delete the historic record.” This process will thus help many folks, but not our present querier. We want the covenant gone.

Helpfully, the county has another guide on how to remove covenants. Less helpfully, the process is thus explained: “If the owner wants the covenant removed, they go to Superior Court (paying the nominal court fee) in the county in which the property is located. Superior Court may issue a declaratory judgment action – entering an order striking the void provisions from the public records and eliminating the void provisions from the title.”

This certainly makes it sound like you can waltz into 516 3rd Ave, pay a fee, and get your “declaratory judgment,” whatever that means! This description elides the “How” part of “How to remove restrictive covenants.” Filing any kind of lawsuit is complicated and time-intensive, and this FAQ entry unfortunately makes a molehill out of what is at least a somewhat formidable landmass.

At least we know that it is possible! This wasn’t a sure thing, because as discussed, recorded documents like to be wholly retained. Perhaps there is a statutory or regulatory basis for this? Time to check ye olde secondary sources – Washington Practice. I searched the whole series (via Westlaw) for “restrictive covenants,” but this yielded too many results—restrictive covenants are only our emphasis to the extent that they are discriminatory. So, I retooled my search to “discriminatory covenants” and the top result seemed relevant.

Washington Practice Volume 17 Real Estate: Property Law § 3.1.70. speaks to discriminatory covenants and says that it was only recently that the legislature adopted RCW 49.60.227 to allow the removal of discriminatory covenants. Statutory language – bingo!

RCW 49.60.227 sez “The action shall be an in rem, declaratory judgment action whose title shall be the description of the property. The necessary party to the action shall be the owner, occupant, or tenant of the property or any portion thereof. The person bringing the action shall pay a fee set under…”

This is enough for a patron, I think.

    • Declaratory judgments, see:
        • CR 57
        • 15 Washington Practice § 42:11. Declaratory Judgments: Procedure generally
    • In rem jurisdiction
        • 14 Washington Practice Chapter 5: In rem jurisdiction

The next steps would probably be modifying a blank probate form caption (or some other Ex Parte material) to say “In rem of: [the property]” and to use the above texts, perhaps our civil lawsuit packet, to cobble together a complaint for declaratory judgment against the discriminatory covenant. This would likely entail service by publication, as seen in the chapter for in rem jurisdiction.

A determined pro se litigant who wants to excise the unenforceable bits from their deed can likely achieve it, although they will likely find the process opaque, time consuming, and discombobulating. In other words, right up my alley.

Ross’ Ref Q’s – Common carriers



Welcome back to Ross’ Ref Q’s. We had a bye month in July, and to get the Ref Q wheels turning once again, August’s Q is… something of a nothingburger. Instead of highlighting interesting reference strategies, this Q allows me to ruminate on the limits of human capacity and the nature of regret. No, I’m not fun at parties.

The question came from who I assumed was an attorney-type:

Who is defined as a common carrier “passenger” in Washington?

My little knowledge of common carriers comes from reading about the political movement to treat internet providers as common carriers. What they are are essentially logistic companies responsible for transporting goods or services and that are available to the public. Operating as a common carrier opens you up to certain liabilities, because you’re establishing a duty to your passengers or payloads.

Which is enough of a background to ask, well, who is considered a passenger?

The question came in a month or two ago, and I’m unable to faithfully replicate the information search on which I embarked. I know that I opened up Westlaw and therein the digital version of Washington Practice, as I typically do, and I believe I tried using the search box for “common carrier” in the Civil Procedure and Elements of an Action volumes. Why these? I believe the patron suggested Elements of an Action, which I latched onto. Civil Procedure was probably just force of habit. These aren’t an apt fit though, in hindsight, and as such they returned no results. At that point, I think I was flustered and backed away from state-specific resources, and instead retrieved the CJS volume that dealt with common carriers, and sure enough there was a section on what constitutes a passenger. Resource: found. Mission: accomplished-ish.

Returning to the question to see if there was enough meat for this column, I searched all of Washington Practice off the bat, not specific volumes and found… many, many relevant sections: Pattern jury instructions for what constitutes a common carrier passenger in Washington. Lengthy sections in the Torts volume that deal with this very question. How did I miss these? CJS is fine, but these are state-specific and I mean, literal jury instructions (ie plain English statutory heuristics). The Torts volume itself would have ably answered his question, or even the Methods of Practice volume. How did I miss all of this?

I don’t know why I didn’t search more broadly in Washington Practice. And now, months removed, I can’t recall any factors that may have affected me: Was it busy? I don’t remember a line. Was the user impatient? It’s possible, but usually such dispositions don’t influence my work, or I like to think that they don’t. Was I distracted, or was there cause for underperformance? Well, my toddler started daycare in May, and I’ve been sick and harried for most of the time since, which I don’t like to posit- but even so, I routinely locate resources without fail.

It seems to come down to the fact that I’m human and made a mistake, whatever the cause. I don’t consider myself a perfectionist, but even a slight error like this seems to haunt me. Part of it is the ramifications of law librarianship- what if I gave a similarly off base resource to a pro se patron? What if someone relied on an authority I provided, which led to their complete and utter ruin?

That would suck for sure. But I have to remind myself I can only do my best, and admit that in my position, I’m more likely to help someone starting off than ruin someone’s long fought progress – if I were able to knock their action into disarray, as a public librarian, it is likely the situation was tenuous and likely to fall into disarray anyway. Or, that’s what I tell myself to push forward.

But there is some research strategy to be gleaned. Fairly obviously, it helps to start with a wide net, then narrow your focus as you go. In this case, starting a search in Westlaw for the Q in all of Washington Practice would have yielded a book in hand within a minute or so. This is true for other databases and physical resources as well- don’t commit yourself to a single chapter if you aren’t certain it’s what you need.

With that, a related consideration barely worth dwelling on is that I’m sure I latched onto Elements of an Action because the user suggested it. I almost never recommend that volume because there’s usually a better fit, so I suppose the user’s suggestion carried additional weight. I wonder if they hadn’t suggested it, would I have performed a general search off the bat? I can’t say, but it’s worth considering that past experience, that of a user or our own experience, shouldn’t constrain our strategy and should be taken with a small grain of salt. Again, keeping an information search more general off the bat is preferred, because, in this situation, a general search of Washington Practice would have displayed chapters from Elements of an Action anyway, if they existed.

There’s also the matter of defining good enough. From what I recall, the attorney was grateful for the CJS chapter and carried on his way. If the user was happy, it’s possible that resource was “good enough.” I should smile more.

Join us next month for another great Ref Q—hopefully one less suited to my depressive inclinations. シ



What’s that Sound? An eBook Explosion at KCLL!

Barbara Engstrom, Executive Director, King County Law Library

During the past year, the law library has made a big push to transition some of our collection to eBooks available for remote access. Because of the popularity of the first round of eBook acquisitions, we recently doubled the amount of eBook content available. We currently have a couple of different eBook platforms. Our main platform is Lexis Digital which is where you’ll find all your favorite Lexis/ Mathew Bender treatises along with content from the ABA, the WSBA, and the KCBA. In addition to Lexis Digital, we also have eBook content for legal practitioners from Wolters Kluwer and the National Consumer Law Center. Here’s a look at what’s available, starting with Lexis Digital.

Lexis Digital

Primary Law

For federal primary law, we have the United States Code Service (USCS) Lexis’s annotated code. For Washington, we have the Annotated Revised Code of Washington (ARCW) and the Washington Rules of Court Annotated. In addition to substantive law, you’ll find references to related cases, statutes, regulations, law review articles, and other secondary sources. Even if you have Westlaw access for primary law, you may want to take a look at the annotated codes and court rules on Lexis Digital, you’ll be surprised at the lack of overlap between the Lexis and Westlaw results.

WSBA Deskbooks!

A very exciting acquisition is the WSBA Deskbook collection. Lexis and the WSBA recently partnered to offer the deskbooks as true eBooks. While electronic versions of the desk books were available in the past via Casemaker, the Lexis Digital version allows full eBook functionality including highlighting, adding annotations, and downloading customized content. The following titles are currently available

  • Estate Planning, Probate, and Trust Administration in Washington
  • Public Records Act Deskbook: Washington’s Public Disclosure and Open Public Meetings Laws
  • Shareholder Litigation in Washington State
  • The Law of Lawyering in Washington
  • Washington Appellate Practice Deskbook
  • Washington Business Corporation Act (RCW 23B) Sourcebook
  • Washington Civil Procedure Deskbook
  • Washington Community Property Deskbook
  • Washington Construction Law Deskbook
  • Washington Law of Wills and Intestate Succession
  • Washington Legal Ethics Deskbook
  • Washington Partnership and Limited Liability Company Deskbook
  • Washington Real Property Deskbook Series

You may be wondering why the Family Law Deskbook and the Washington Motor Vehicle Deskbook trio (Accidents, Accident Litigation, and Accident Insurance) aren’t included on the list. Lexis is in the process of updating those sets and will have them available early in the new year.

Washington Practitioner Resources

In addition to the WSBA Deskbooks, we have a lot of other great Washington specific resources. We have the full set of the KCBA’s Washington Lawyer’s Practice Manual (WLPM). For greater accessibility, the WLPM is available for download by chapter. We also have the following.

  • Defending DUIs In Washington
  • Employment in Washington
  • The Law of Evidence in Washington
  • New Appleman Washington Insurance Law
  • Washington Business Entities: Law and Forms
  • Washington Civil Discovery
  • Washington Criminal Law
  • Washington Family Law
  • Washington Guardianship Law
  • Washington Insurance Law
  • Washington Marijuana Laws and Regulations
  • Washington Pretrial Civil Procedure
  • Washington Probate and Estate Administration
  • Washington Real Estate Litigation
  • Washington State Environmental Policy Act
  • Washington Torts and Personal Injury
  • Washington Trial and Post-Trial Civil Procedure

Gold Standard Treatise Sets

We also upped our treatise content and have acquired several new gold standard treatise sets. These sets, which cost thousands of dollars to purchase and maintain, are now available to you anytime of the day or night at the convenience of your home or office.

  • Moore’s Federal Practice
  • Weinstein’s Federal Evidence
  • Current Legal Forms
  • Benders Forms of Discovery
  • Corbin on Contracts
  • Powell on Real Property
  • Collier on Bankruptcy
  • New Appleman on Insurance
  • Page on Wills
  • Bender’s Immigration & Nationality
  • Nichols on Eminent Domain
  • Benedict on Admiralty

Subject Matter Areas

We’ve also beefed up our holdings in several different practice areas including (but not limited to):

Criminal Law

  • Constitutional Law
  • Courtroom Criminal Evidence
  • Criminal Law Deskbook
  • Criminal Practice Handbook
  • Federal Habeas Corpus Practice and Procedure
  • Mental Disability Law: Criminal and Civil
  • Police Civil Liability
  • Pretrial Motions in Criminal Prosecutions
  • Prosecutorial Misconduct
  • Search and Seizure
  • Sexual Assault Trials


  • Civil Rights Actions
  • Cross-Examination
  • Electronic Discovery & Evidence
  • Fundamentals of Damages in Tort Actions
  • Personal Injury: Actions, Defenses, and Damages
  • Punitive Damages
  • What It’s Worth

Labor & Employment

  • Employee Rights Litigation
  • Employment Libel and Privacy
  • Labor & Employment Law

Real Property

  • Clark on Surveying and Boundaries
  • Condo Law & Practice
  • Practical Guide to Landowner Disputes

How to Access KCLL’s Expanded Lexis Digital eBook Collection

If you are already a subscriber to KCLL, you can find the Lexis Digital Library via our Remote Database page https://kcll.org/remote-databases/ You’ll just sign on using your email address on file with your subscriber account. If you are not a subscriber but would like to start accessing the eBook bounty, learn more about the benefits of our subscriber program and join at https://kcll.org/join-kcll/ The default checkout period for eBooks is 7 days and is for 5 books at a time. Early return of a book will free up an allotted checkout.

Are You A King County Public Defender, Prosecutor or Judge? Get Special Access to Lexis Digital

If you are a judge in King County or work for the King County DPD or PAO and have a kingcounty.gov email address, contact us about complementary access to the Lexis Digital eBook collection. services@kcll.org

Wolters Kluwer/ VitalLaw a/k/a Cheetah

If you’ve followed this column in the past or have looked for remote databases on KCLL’s website you may be wondering where the Cheetah database went. Never fear, it is still available, but under a new name. Wolters Kluwer recently (and without much notice) rebranded Cheetah as VitalLaw. A rose by any name will still smell as sweet and so does the VitalLaw content which includes:

  • Administrative Law Treatise
  • Antitrust Law
  • Bromberg & Ribstein on Partnership
  • Drafting Limited Liability Company Operating Agreements
  • Drafting Prenuptial Agreements
  • Drunk Driving Defense
  • Elder Law Answer Book
  • ElderLaw Forms Manual
  • Employee Dismissal Law & Practice
  • Law of Lawyering
  • Law of Restitution
  • Motions Practice
  • Scott & Ascher on Trusts
  • Special Needs Trust Handbook

National Consumer Law Center

The treatise collection from the National Consumer Law Center is also available in eBook format for remote access. These were some of our most heavily circulated items in the before times. You’ll find the following on the NCLC database:

  • Debtor Rights
  • Fair Debt Collection
  • Consumer Bankruptcy Law and Practice
  • Student Loan Law
  • Repossessions
  • Access to Utility Service

Mortgages & Foreclosures

  • Mortgage Lending
  • Mortgage Servicing and Loan Modifications
  • Home Foreclosures

Credit & Banking

  • Fair Credit Reporting
  • Truth in Lending
  • Consumer Credit Regulation
  • Credit Discrimination
  • Consumer Banking and Payments Law

Deception & Warranties

  • Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices
  • Federal Deception Law
  • Automobile Fraud
  • Consumer Warranty Law

Consumer Litigation

  • Collection Actions
  • Consumer Class Actions
  • Consumer Arbitration Agreements
  • Consumer Law Pleadings

How to Access KCLL’s Wolters Kluwer/ VitalLaw and National Consumer Law Center Databases

You do not have to be a subscriber to access either of these databases. For Vital Law you’ll need to sign up for a guest registration and get a library card number. For the National Consumer Law Center database just follow the prompts for the log on information. https://kcll.org/remote-databases/

Wait, I Like Print Books! Does KCLL Still Have Those?

Good question, thanks for asking! Yes, all of the books and treatise sets mentioned in this article are available in both print and eBook format. Print books are available for in-library use for all KCLL patrons. Subscribers are welcome to check out the print volumes for the standard two-week check-out period.

Have Suggestions or Questions? Need Help?

Let us know if there are titles that you’d like to see added to our eBook collection. At this point we are limited to titles from LexisNexis/Matthew Bender, Wolters Kluwer, and the ABA, but we’d love to hear what’s on your wish list. If you have questions about our eBook collections or any of the databases or resources mentioned feel free to contact the law library at services@kcll.org. We’re happy to answer questions about eBooks, print books, or on any other law-related topic.

Form Packet for Making a Motion in a Civil Case

If you have a civil case in King County Superior Court and need to ask your assigned judge to do something, this packet may be very helpful.  It has instructions and forms for submitting a motion (the way you ask the court to do something) and a proposed order (the thing that you’re asking the court to do).

This is NOT meant for family law cases or for presentation to the Ex Parte Department.

You can order the packet from our website HERE.

The Library can be contacted at (206) 477-1305 or Services@KCLL.org