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, DC
- Washington State University, B.A., summa cum laude
- The George Washington University Law School, J.D., with highest honors, Order of the Coif
- 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 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. At Clements, Brown & McNichols, he twice argued and won before the Idaho Supreme Court and 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.
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
- Idaho State University, B.A., Political Science
- University of Idaho College of Law, J.D., magna cum laude
- Farm Bureau of Idaho, Assistant to the Vice President of Human Resources and Operations
Mary E. Briggs
Mary was born and raised in Pocatello, Idaho. She worked as the assistant to the Vice President of Human Resources and Operations at the home office of Idaho Farm Bureau in Pocatello then moved to the Quad Cities to attend law school at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho.
While attending 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. Mary discovered her appreciation for tax law while in law school, receiving the CALI Excellence for the Future Award in both Federal Income Taxation and Partnership/LLC Taxation. Her strength in tax law contributed to her supervision of the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program at the University of Idaho for two years after working as a volunteer tax preparer. She interned with McKarcher Law during her last year of law school, and then moved to Clarkston after graduating to join us as a full-time associate.