• Do You Have to Do Probate When Someone Dies?

    Do You Have to Do Probate When Someone Dies? A term frequently heard after someone dies is “probate.” Probate is the legal process used to administer a deceased person’s estate by gathering assets, settling debts, and ultimately providing financial distributions to members of the family. As a judicial process, the probate judge is essentially providing legal oversight of the transfer of assets to others, whether or not there was a final will. When a loved one passes away, it’s common to wonder whether you have to go through the probate process.  While technically, it isn’t automatically mandatory in Washington state, the practical realities of dealing with an estate’s creditors, heirs, and other interested parties means that using the p

  • Can a Grandfather Clause Be Revoked?

    Non-conforming use, more commonly referred to as a "grandfathered use," is a concept found in zoning and land use law. To understand it fully, one must understand how zoning and land use codes work. State and local government use municipal "zoning codes" to govern how buildings are constructed and how land is utilized. What's more, codes govern not only what people can build, how they can build it. For instance, one section of municipal code would limit one's lot to a single-family residence, but another section might mandate how large the home can be for the lot. The difficulty with code is that it changes and evolves over time. In a manner of thinking, it’s as though the regulatory goal posts can shift. Grandfathered uses, therefore, occur when a

  • Avoiding Probate in Washington State

    Probate is the legal process by which a court oversees how the assets of an estate are divided up. The probate process may occur, regardless of whether the deceased has a will. How to avoid probate in Washington depends on your goals and the complexity of the estate. You may want your family members to avoid going through the process because, depending on the nature of the estate, it may take a long time to complete, require significant participation from the administrator or executor, and, if legal counsel is used, it can generate a significant amount of attorney’s fees. Probate is a legal process that includes: Proving that a will, if there is one, is valid Identifying and creating an inventory of the deceased’s property and liabili

  • Surplus Funds from Deeds of Trust Foreclosures

    By Thomas L. Dickson, Esq. In a highly-charged real estate market, people losing their homes to deeds of trust foreclosure may be surprised to learn they are entitled to cash after the trustee’s sale. Despite the unpleasant fact a foreclosure is taking place, often the equity gained by the fated property substantially exceeds the amount owed to the foreclosing party. By law, these funds ultimately belong to the grantor, i.e., the debtor to the deed of trust. Debtors in these situations must check their elation, however, because the surplus funds must run a gauntlet of potential creditors before reaching the grantor. Foreclosure Procedure The Deed of Trust foreclosure procedure is governed by RCW 61.24 et. seq. Under RCW 61.24.080(3), if there i