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June 19, 2014     The Quincy Valley Post-Register
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June 19, 2014

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THE QtaNCY VALLZ-s 6 FORUM ',1 THURSDAY, June 19, 2014 " "" "-'00os00-Keg-/s00er Jill FitzSimmons Editor Kurtis J. Wood Sports Editor TraceY Law Bookkeeper Sunshine Didra - Adsales . Copy editor Tammara Green News Writer " Jessica Blancas Graphic Design Letters to the editor The views expressed in the letters to the editor are not necessarily those of the newspaper, its staff or ownership. The Post-Reg- ister welcomes letters to the editor and guest columns; however, those letters to the editor exceeding 300 words are subject to editing. The Post-Register reserves the right to reject letters that • are in poor taste, libelous or constitute a personal attack. All letters must be signed and have the daytime phone number of the writer. Letters are intended as an exchange New law allows homeowners to avoid probate Rani K. Sampson GUEST COLUMNIST "qr BY RANI SAMPSON Overcast Law Offices As of last week, there's a new way to avoid probate: the transfer on death deed• Washington's new law allows real property to pass from the person who died directly to a new owner without going through the court's probate process• Now, with a transfer on death (TOD) deed, real estate can pass outside of probate as other assets do, such as insurance proceeds, money in pay-on-death bank accounts, and pension plan benefits. Here's how it works: A prop- erty-owner signs an ordinary deed that contains a special instruction that the property does not trans- fer until the property-owner dies. The transfer-on-death deed must be recorded with the county be- fore the property-owner dies. The property-owner does not have to tell anyone that he or she record- ed a TOD deed, but the TOD deed will be a public record. The trans- fer is not subject to real estate ex- cise tax. The beneficiary of the deed (the person who gets the property) can claim the property as soon as the property-owner's death certificate is recorded. The beneficiary will own the property but will also be responsible for all of the proper- ty's liabilities such as leases, liens and mortgages. A beneficiary who does not want property that is transferred by a TOD deed may "disclaim" the girl of property by recording a "disclaimer" in the county's records. A TOD deed does not affect the property-owner's enjoyment of his or her property. The own- er can use the property as he or she always has. The owner can refinance the property, rent it, short-plat it, or simply-live in the property. Nothing has changed - except the owner has made it clear who will get the property when he or she dies. A TOD deed is different from a life-estate, where the owner has transferred the property (usually to the kids) but continues to live in the house. With a life-estate, the old owner has given away most of his or her rights to the property, except the right to live in the home. Unlike a life-estate, a TOD deed is revocable - the proper- ty-owner can change his or her mind - as long as the owner still has the mental capacity to sign a deed or a will. If the proper- ty-owner sells or transfers the property, the TOD deed is voided. Or, the property-owner can re- voke the TOD deed by recording a new TOD deed or by creating a will that gives the property to someone else. At first, the TOD deed sounds like a great alternative to pro- bate: you might not need a will, it doesn't affect anyone's eligibility for public assistance, and you can change your mind and cancel the TOD deed. But, TOD deeds have disad- vantages, especially in the case where the property-owner re- ceives public benefits. For exam- pie, DSHS may place a lien on a "transfer on death" property any time within two years of a per- son's death if that person received certain benefits. However, DSHS would only have four months to place a lien if the property went through probate. TOD deeds are not ideal for transferring property to a group of people• For example, a widow records a TOD deed that gives her property to her three sons and daughter, but the daughter dies be- fore the Widow does. If the widow doesn't record a new TOD deed, her daughter's children might not receive a Share of the property. In a probate proceeding, though, her daughter's children could get a one-fourth share of the property. This new tool; the transfer on death deed, should be used with care. It is intended to help people avoid probate (and lawyers). But, a TOD deed could cause all sorts of unintended difficulties, so it would be wise to talk to a lawyer before making one. Rani Sampson is an attor- ney with Overcast Law Offices in Wenatchee and Quincy. Her practice focuses on estate plan- ning, real estate and business. Washington is the 14 th state in the country to adopt this new law, the transfer on death deed. of opinions. Submissions with contact information for the writer should be sent to Subscriptions The Quincy Post-Register is distributed free to in-city resi- dents in Quincy and George. outside of Washington. Addi- tional rates for snowbirds and college students are available. To subscribe, call 1-800-572-4433 The Quincy Valley Post-Reg- ister is published weekly by Quincy Valley Media, Inc. 305 Central Ave. S., Quincy, WA 98848. Postage paid at Quincy, WA. Postmaster, send address changes to: The Quincy Valley Post-Register P.O. Box 217 Quincy, WA 98848-0217 USPS No 453-080 Telephone: (509) 787-4511 FAX: (509) 787-2682 E-mail: People of the Wanapmn Reservnir want answers, access to the river BY TOM PARK Editor's Note. This letter was submitted to the Grant PUD Board of Commissioners last week. Commissioners will discuss the letter at their June 24 meeting. The people between Rock Island and Wana- pum Dam have been patient, and now we want answers• We were told the shoreline would open back up in July or August• Now the Grant County PUD is conveying it "might" be the end of 2014. Our businesses and quality of life are suffering, and now we want answers. News reports indicate the Columbia River shoreline is closed due to protection of natural artifacts and unstable conditions of the river bank There are already federal laws in place to protect picking .up artifacts and taking them home. These laws were passed in 1906, 1966, 1979, and 1992 forbid the taking of Native American artifacts from any and all federal land. These laws are in effect regardless of the water levels• Over the past several years, states have also passed their own laws restricting the taking of Native American artifacts from state lands• There are also laws concerning the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) which is a Federal law passed in 1990. NAGPRA requires federal agencies to complete'inventories and summaries of Native American cultural items in their collections, publish notices in the Federal Register, and repatriate Native American human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony to lineal descendants and culturally affiliated Indian tribes and Native Ha- waiian organizations. Under NAGPRA, Federal agencies are re- quired to consult government-to-government with Native American tribes in carrying out NAGPRA, and federal agencies also have spe- cial NAGPRA responsibilities when Native American human remains and items are discov- ered on Federal and tribal lands. The law does not state that you need to close public access to an entire shoreline. We understand access should be restricted or denied if the shoreline is considered "unsafe." Several months ago the shoreline was closed due to trustable river banks and wet sand. The wet sand is now dry but we still do not have ac- cess to the river. However, lowering water levels along the Columbia River is something that fluctuates each year. Lake Roosevelt is over 150 miles long, provides over 630 miles of shoreline and stores up to 9.4 million acre feet of water behind Grand Coulee Dam. Full pool at Lake Roos- evelt is 1,290 feet. This is the elevation of the surface of the water above sea level. The elevation level of the lake can fluctuate as much as 80 feet over the course of a year. But they do not consider the shoreline to be hazard- ous and prevent public access. We must ask the questions that are important to the people who live or visit the shores of the Columbia River: Ensuring public safety. Safety issues were a concern when the river level was lowered• The shoreline has been exposed for over three months with little rain. How is the PUD mea- suring safety? Access is restricted due to Haz- ardous Conditions How do they define hazard- ous and how do we know what is considered safe. The wet sand that was once unsafe is now dry. Protecting cultural resources• Is this re- ally necessary to protect and monitor seven days a week when there are already laws in place? Why are we spending hundreds of thou- sands of dollars in additional protection when the law is already in place? News articles indicate theerack in the Wana- pum Dam was discovered Feb. 27. Public re- cords indicate there was concrete and rebar fa- tigue back in 2006/2007• What safety measures were put in place to monitor these fatigues? Are the officials provoking these tactics as re- venge method due to the Crescent Bar law suit? Dredging in Vantage and Frenchman Cou- lee already started. Why is the worke being de- laed in Crescent Bar? Is this due to the Grant PUD not putting Crescent Bar Inc. on the in- demnity clause? Prolonging the dredging work at Crescent Bar after the water is raised could cause another water access closure and hun- dreds of thousands of dollars to be lost. Are the officials discriminating against all others by not letting them access the river? The Native Americans are accessing the river on a daily basis. Are we wasting Grant PUD money by buying new boats and jet skis for public safety and pro- tecting cultural resources? What is being addressed about the Northwest minnow program? The program was put in place to protect our salmon as they feed almost exclusively on salmon smelts• Are we putting our salmon in danger by not allowing fishing on the river? In the lease agreement to CBI, it indicates the rent shall be abated on a pro-rate basis for the period of time the ordinary conduct of busi- ness by lessee is prevented• This is due to over- flow. What about underflow? What is being done about the businesses that are unable to survive? The local businesses rely on water sports and activities to draw customers from across the nation. Several businesses are unable to provide services and others are strug- gling to survive. We need answers. I encourage every business to write to the PUD at commissioners@grant- Tom Park is the owner of Crescent Bar Vaca- tion Rentals.