Experienced Seattle Probate Attorneys
Most people fail to consider the repercussions of not having an end-of-life plan. Decide now how you want your estate and finances managed after you are gone, and have confidence in the knowledge that your loved ones will be provided for.
Our Seattle Probate & Estate Law Practice Areas:
• Seattle Probate Attorney
• Last Will & Testament and Power of Attorney
• Undue Influence in Wills
• Trust Accounting Litigation
• Defective Wills & Trusts
• Recovery for Financial Elder Abuse
• Probate and Administration of an Estate
• Litigation for Abused Will & Trust Beneficiaries
• Legal Guardianships
• Estate Planning Attorney
• Contested Trusts, Wills, and Probate Litigation
Probate law governs what transpires with a deceased person’s property after death. The deceased person’s assets (possessions and property, in other words) are collectively referred to in the law as the decedent’s “estate.” This is true regardless of whether or not the contents of the estate are subject to the control of Washington’s probate. While the probate process is not necessarily required in all situations, it is nonetheless a wise process to follow. If done properly, the probate process can serve as a form of liability protection to the personal representative of the probated estate (often referred to as the “executor” or “executrix”), and to make sure that the estate’s property is distributed to the heirs properly.
The principal responsibility of a personal representative is to collect the assets of the decedent, and ultimately distribute them according to the dictates of his or her will. The process is also designed to protect existing creditors of the decedent, and to effectively and definitively establish the beneficiaries rights as to the decedent’s assets. If a deceased person did not create a valid will in life, the assets remaining in his or her estate will be distributed according to Washington state’s probate statute. (RCW 11 contains the State’s directives regarding both probates and trusts.) If the decedent had prepared a will in life, he is said to have died “testate” while if he did not prepare a will, he will have died “intestate.” Now, while the law in Washington state is straightforward when it comes to distribution of an individual’s assets/property in an intestate probate, it is distinctly better to have properly created a last will and testament in life, so as to control how one’s assets are distributed after death.
In Washington state, RCW 11.02.091 describes which assets are subject to the probate process. The most common types of non-probate assets are as follows:
(A) Accounts established between the decedent and another individual which contain a “right of survivorship” clause; (these are commonly joint bank accounts);
(B) Property that is owned in “joint tenancy” (with rights of survivorship);
(C) Assets which are subject to community property, presuming the existence of a marriage, or controlled through a community property agreement;
(D) Life insurance policies with a designated beneficiary clause directing to whom the prcoeeds will be issued (presuming, of course, that the designated beneficiary is not the estate itself);
(E) Any other assets which are controlled by the designation of a beneficiary–similar to that of a life insurance policy (for instance, a 401(k) or other investment account, which designates a specific individual as the beneficiary in the event that the holder of the account dies).
It is important to note that the decedent’s “estate” will often contain both non-probate and probate assets. The difference between the two designations, is that non-probate assets are governed by the terms of the instruments (i.e. contracts) which created them, while probate assets are governed by the written will of the decedent, or state statute in the event that no will exists at the time of the decedent’s death.
In Washington state, the Superior Courts hold the proper jurisdiction to administer the probate process. According to RCW 11.96A.050, the circumstances surrounding the potential probate govern which county is appropriate to initiate the probate process. Specifically, a probate should be started in the county where the decedent (1) resided, (2) died, or (3) where the property owned by a nonresident decedent happens to be located.
While nothing can replace the care that you provide your family, creating a will can give you peace of mind.
Should you find yourself serving as a personal representative (executor) of an estate, hiring an experienced probate attorney to guide you in administrating the estate or probate process is vital. With assistance from an attorney, you can have confidence in the knowledge that your loved one’s estate is being managed properly and provide you with security from personal liability.
No matter the probate issue, Dickson Frohlich has over 100 years of experience helping people make and deal with final and personal arrangements.
We are the legal consultants to turn to for help with any estate or trust issue, as well as drafting your personal will.
our Tacoma office at 253-572-1000 or our Seattle office at 206-621-1110
Our probate services include the following:
- Explaining the legal process after a relative has passed on, and postmortem estate planning
- Assisting you in filing a will
- Protecting your assets for heirs/beneficiaries
- Assistance with contesting a will, including claims of undue influence
- Representation in probate, estate, and trust litigation
- Formal and summary probate administration
- Estate and trust administration
- Representation of personal representatives
- Appointment of a special administrator
Discover What Makes Dickson Frohlich Different:
- Experience teamed with compassion – Making your final arrangements or coping with the estate of a loved one can be very stressful. Put our decades of experience serving probate clients to work for you. Our thoughtful, accurate and timely handling of your loved one’s personal and financial matters will help smooth the process and reduce stress as much as possible. You can confidently leave the court filings, paperwork, tax issues, phone calling, inventorying, etc. to us.
- Affordability – Dickson Frohlich is committed to providing great service in all areas of probate, trust and estate planning at affordable rates. At this stressful time, don’t let unexpected legal fees add to your worries. At Dickson Frohlich, we never hesitate to provide a quote for our services over the phone.