About Susan M. Teel

Attorney Susan TeelSusan M. Teel, Principal of Teel & Associates, PLLC has practiced law for over thirty-five years, and is licensed to practice in Washington and California. She moved her residence to Washington in 2006, and continues to assist clients with assets, family, and business interests in both states. Susan’s principal legal concentrations are in estates and trusts.

She focusses on both tax and family based estate planning, administration of estates and trusts after death and elder law planning. Her practice includes both high net worth individuals who need sophisticated tax oriented wealth transfer planning, as well as individuals of modest means whose goals are to protect their assets, and transfer them in a meaningful way to protect family and benefit the community.

LEGAL EXPERIENCE & PRACTICE AREAS

Estate Planning

Estate Planning begins with assisting individuals in analyzing their financial and legal needs for carrying out their wishes in the event of their incompetency, and at death.  Simple planning results in the preparation of Wills, Trusts, Durable Powers of Attorney for Health Care and for Asset Management.   The planning also anticipates preparation of additional documents necessary to lay a foundation for future events.

A tax oriented plan may include gifting to family, charity; use of insurance based instruments; implementation of grantor trusts, partnership agreements and/or use of LLCs to plan for transfer of business interests. Business succession planning will concentrate on use of the best legal and tax form for operating the business and shepherding a future transition.  Discussion and advice may include use of Operating Agreements, Shareholder Agreements, Independent Contractor Agreements, Non-Compete Agreements, etc.

The goal of both the client and the attorney is to create a plan for the successful, harmonious, financially and tax efficient succession of all types of assets to intended beneficiaries.

Wills and Probate

Traditional estate planning is based on using a Will to direct how a Decedent’s assets are distributed.  Wills can be simple or complex depending on the types and values of assets to be distributed, the people designated to inherit and how the client wishes the transfers to occur.  We have experience working with the “whole” estate and family, and providing guidance on the most efficient tools to use to implement the planning.  The Will becomes effective after a death.   The attorneys representing the Administrator or Executor assists in initiating a probate proceeding in the County where the decedent died.   We provide advice on the best venue and type of proceeding, and guide the Executor in navigating the Court- imposed required probate and creditor protections procedures.

Trust Planning

Using a revocable trust may be an important part of a full estate plan.  A revocable trust is the blueprint for administration of assets during multiple stages of life – initially as overseen by the persons creating the trust (settlors and trustees), later with the assistance of a successor trustee in the event of incapacity or the need for financial assistance, and ultimately after death, replacing a probate proceeding.   Other types of trust planning include:  use of Special Needs Trusts, when protection of a beneficiary’s institutional benefits is paramount, Irrevocable Insurance Trusts to direct protection and distribution of life insurance proceeds, and trusts for minors, to protect a minor’s interest in a substantial financial gift until majority.

Trust Administration

Correctly and efficiently representing a Successor Trustee after the death of the original trust owner(s) is essential.  Such representation enables the Settlor’s intentions to be implemented and carried out.  Usually trust administration takes place without Court intervention.  Trust assets need to be valued, retitled, tax elections made and reported as necessary and finally distributed.  Susan has experience advising trustees and overseeing asset transfers based in multi-state jurisdictions.

Trust and Estate Dispute Resolution

In Washington, disputes involving estate or trust beneficiaries, trustees and adjudication of property interests are handled under the “TEDRA” procedures outlined in RCW Chapter 11.96A.  Susan has handled multiple cases requiring relief under TEDRA rules, and has represented parties to disputes both in litigation and negotiating out-of-court resolutions.

Tax Controversies

Susan has represented individuals, businesses, trusts and estates in resolving income tax disputes and negotiating settlement and payment plans with the IRS.  She has also represented estates in gift and estate tax matters, including preparation of returns and audit representation.

Education

  • Undergraduate Degree:  UCLA – B.S. English Speech
  • Law School:  San Francisco Law School – JD
  • Post Graduate:  Golden Gate University – LLM – Tax
  • Mills College:  Post-Doc Life Sciences

Affiliations

  • U.S. District Court, for the Western District of Washington
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California;
  • U.S. Tax Court
  • State Bar of Washington:  SBN 38727
  • State Bar of California:  SBN 99597
  • King County Bar Association
  • Snohomish County Bar Association
  • Snohomish Council on Aging
  • Martindale-Hubbell, AV Rated