What We Do

McKarcher Law specializes in estate planning and estate administration for Idaho and Washington clients. We prepare will-based or trust-based plans that include powers of attorney for property and health care, health directives, and other related documents. We advise trustees and personal representatives in administering estates, whether through a court-based probate or private trust administration.

Our clients prefer a comprehensive and meticulous approach to their estate planning that focuses on:
  • Identifying and minimizing the risk of disputes
  • Planning for income and capital gains taxes
  • Planning for estate taxes, if applicable
  • Providing asset protection for beneficiaries
  • Professional administration, if desired and appropriate in the situation

Some believe their situation is “simple,” or that they just need a “simple” will. But consider, for example:

  • Some may not have any assets subject to federal or state estate (or “death”) tax. In our experience, however, many Washington residents do not realize that a combined marital estate of $2.2 million or more that is administered with “simple” planning will likely expose the surviving spouse to Washington estate tax and all the tax filings and administrative cost that come with it. This is because each spouse’s $2.2 million Washington “exemption” must be used at his or her death or it is lost forever.
  • Nearly everyone has significant income and capital gains tax exposure of which they are unaware, including issues arising from tax-favored IRAs or other retirement accounts.
  • Those who gift assets to children before death often create unfortunate tax outcomes for the recipients. In many cases, it is far better (and just as straightforward) to give the relevant asset at death.
Our process is comprehensive and illuminating – it takes weeks or months, not a few days, to be done correctly. Thorough estate planning involves listing and discussing at least briefly, at our initial meeting, every category of assets you own, even if one seems insignificant. Hidden but important issues of income taxation, lost step-up in tax basis, or other such issues that can have significant impacts are missed without a thorough review of all assets. Indivisible tangible personal property can be the source of significant and expensive disputes if not approached thoughtfully, even if briefly.
Our fees reflect the value and expertise of our work. We will review with you the available options and related costs during your initial estate planning meeting. Our clients appreciate that we do as much of the work of reviewing and changing title to assets as possible for them, because one improperly titled asset or one incorrect beneficiary designation can destroy a carefully crafted estate plan. We usually draft custom designations for retirement accounts like IRAs to ensure flexibility and the best opportunity to do post-death tax and asset protection planning.
We review both will-based and trust-based options during your initial estate planning meeting – and we do not recommend trusts for all clients. We even have a couple of clients for whom we have recommended they plan to have no will (i.e., to die “intestate”), with powerful “lifetime” powers of attorney and other asset-transfer devices in place – but only after careful and meticulous planning in their very special circumstances. Every client is unique, no matter how straightforward their circumstances are.
If our approach to estate planning appeals to you, please call our office to discuss working together. We look forward to meeting you!

Who We Are

Admissions to Practice

  • Washington
  • Idaho
  • Washington, DC
  • Virginia

Education

  • Washington State University, B.A., summa cum laude
  • The George Washington University Law School, J.D., with highest honors, Order of the Coif

Previous Experience

  • Clements, Brown, & McNichols, P.A., Lewiston, ID, Associate
  • Covington & Burling LLP, Washington, DC, Associate
  • CenterStone Executive Search, Inc., Seattle, WA, Vice President, Operations 

Joshua D. McKarcher

Josh was born and raised in Clarkston, Washington. He attended Washington State University, worked for a consulting firm for several years, and then moved to Washington, DC to attend law school at The George Washington University. After several years as an associate lawyer with Covington & Burling LLP, in Washington, DC, he moved with his family back to his hometown, where he practiced at Clements, Brown, & McNichols, in Lewiston, Idaho, before opening McKarcher Law PLLC in Clarkston.

In law school, Josh served as an intern for a federal district judge, was Managing Editor of The George Washington Law Review, and graduated Order of the Coif in the top 2% of his class. At Covington & Burling, he argued and unanimously won a precedent-setting case involving corporate bankruptcy before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. (Link here.) At Clements, Brown & McNichols, he twice argued and won before the Idaho Supreme Court (links here and here); and he was hired by a national banking association to draft and file an amicus (or “friend of the court”) brief in a business bankruptcy appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, arguing a position that prevailed with the court. (Link here.)

Josh’s background informs his holistic approach to estate planning and administration: an opportunity to minimize risk, reduce strain on loved ones, and increase beneficiaries’ flexibility, particularly regarding income tax and asset protection.

Admissions to Practice

  • Washington
  • Idaho

Education

  • Idaho State University, B.A., Political Science
  • University of Idaho College of Law, J.D., magna cum laude

Previous Experience

  • Farm Bureau of Idaho, Assistant to the Vice President of Human Resources and Operations

Mary E. Paulus

Mary practices exclusively in estate planning and probate and trust administration for Washington and Idaho clients. She loves the meticulous but personal work of estate planning, and its combination of tax and so many other areas of law.
Mary was born and raised in Pocatello, Idaho. While attending Idaho State University in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree, she worked for Idaho Farm Bureau, continuing to do so after graduation until she moved to Moscow, Idaho to attend law school at the University of Idaho. She has worked continuously with McKarcher Law since her second year of law school.
During her time in law school, Mary was a member of the Idaho Law Review, serving as an associate editor and then as the journal’s Director of Relations and Input Editor. While in school, Mary received the CALI Excellence for the Future Award in both Federal Income Taxation and Partnership/LLC Taxation, as well as the University of Idaho Alumni Award for Excellence. Mary was proud to provide more than triple the number of hours required by the school’s Pro Bono Service Requirement by supervising the university’s IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program for two years after first working as a volunteer tax preparer.
Mary is thrilled to have spent the entirety of her legal career practicing with McKarcher Law, where she gets to continue growing her love for helping people, appreciating tax law, and doing work worth doing.

Education

  • University of Idaho, B.S., Broadcasting and Digital Media

Damian works full-time in our Clarkston, Washington office and is often the first point of contact for our clients.

Damian was born and raised in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley and attended the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho, where he focused on multimedia production and visual communication.

His diverse work experience includes KLEW-TV and Jeda Media Group in production, video, and media roles; and the Lewis-Clark Animal Shelter.

Damian brings what McKarcher Law desires most in its people: deep satisfaction in helping others and serving the community, an eye for details and design, kindness, curiosity, and a penchant for troubleshooting and research. Outside the office, Damian is most excited by animals, baseball, the warm months, “art,” wondering, wandering, and exceptional food and drink.

Damian M. Thornton

Client Services

Education

  • George Mason University, B.A., Foreign Languages

Jenny was born and raised in Idaho’s Treasure Valley. Jenny and Joshua married in 2004, and then moved in 2005 from Clarkston to Washington, DC to continue their respective educations. After graduating from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, Jenny began her career working for a smaller Virginia law firm that advised public charter schools.

Jenny later moved to Gilbert LLP, a large law firm based in downtown DC that advised multi-national companies and others as corporate insurance policyholders. She loved her job supporting teams of partners and associate lawyers in a fast-paced environment.

After several years committed to rearing two now-school-aged McKarcher boys, Jenny has re-entered law firm work to manage firm administration and assist as needed with client services.

Jenny B. McKarcher

Firm Administration

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