Category: Probate Process

  • Steps in Administering an Estate

    While the steps in administering an estate in Washington State can be complex, it's not too difficult provided you have proper legal representation to assist you throughout the process. At Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess, we have many years of experience in assisting our clients with estate law and proper estate planning. Here is a broad overview of the estate administration process and why it is so important for you and your family. Why Estate Administration Is Needed While you may have drafted a will, this does not address every aspect of estate administration. Your will can be well-written and detailed and still not handle all the issues with your estate, such as the distribution of property. How property and other assets are distributed amon

  • What Does an Insolvent Estate Mean?

    If you’re responsible for an estate where the deceased passed away with fewer assets than financial liabilities, you’ll want to know, what does an insolvent estate mean? When you think of administering an estate after someone dies, you likely think of handing out their money and property to family members according to their Last Will and Testament. However, many people have financial issues and may pass away with serious debts and few assets. When you have more debts than you do assets and property, you are legally called “insolvent.” So, what happens when you leave behind an insolvent estate? A big part of administering an estate is settling all debts and paying necessary taxes. In some cases, however, there is not enough money to cover a

  • 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

  • How to File Probate in Washington State

    How to file probate in Washington State is an issue families deal with every day. The probate process can be very complex. An estate can have added complexity when: the value of assets is high, when the number and amount of debts carried by the estate are high, when many heirs are involved, or when some heirs look for a reason to invalidate a will. Probate can be overwhelming, especially as you are grieving the loss of a loved one. That’s why you may want to turn to our probate attorneys for help. Your Questions Answered: How to File Probate in Washington State What Is Probate? Probate is the legal process used to administer an estate (the assets and financial obligation of the deceased) by organizing assets, paying debts, and distributing remai

  • Can a Living Trust Help Avoid Probate?

    How can a living trust help avoid probate? It’s a legal document that might be the right choice for you and your family if avoiding probate is a priority. Most of us don’t like to think about what will happen to our family after we die, but we like having control and doing the right things for our family. Much of estate planning doesn’t improve our lives -- it improves the lives of others when we’re no longer around. For that to happen, we need to put into place the control of a legal structure that can effectively distribute our assets after our passing. Unless you take steps to avoid it, your assets will be subject to probate at the time of your death. When a will is present, the probate court will oversee the organization of your asset

  • What Happens if You Die Without a Will in Washington?

    When you make a legally binding will and testament, you decide who gets your money, real property, and other assets after you die. But what happens if you die without a will in Washington? By law, the state decides who gets your assets through what is called “intestate succession.”  Thus, when you die without a will, you are deemed to have “died intestate.” Under Washington State intestate law, if you die without a will, your assets will go to your relatives, starting with those who are the closest surviving. Not All Assets Are Affected by Intestate Laws It’s important to point out, though, that some important assets may not be affected by intestate succession if you die without a will in Washington. These include assets for which you have

  • Role of a Will in Probate

    When a person dies, one of the first steps you should take is to determine whether or not they drafted a last will and testament during their life. If a will exists, Washington State law1 requires that you file it with the probate court within 40 days of the death. For this reason, the existence of a will should be determined as soon as possible after your loss. The law also permits a person to file their will with the court prior to their death, in part to ensure that the right will is used. Personal Representative A will can be used to guide different aspects of the probate process. First, a will can designate who the deceased person wanted to serve as their personal representative of their estate. This is an important designation, as the personal r

  • Inventory of Assets in a Probate Case

    In order to administer someone's estate, the personal representative must first understand the nature and amount of assets and property that needs to be distributed. Taking inventory of assets is one of the first and most important--yet often complicated--tasks in the probate process. While some assets or property may be specifically mentioned in a will, most may not be. The following are some examples of assets that may be inventoried during probate. Nonprobate Assets As the name suggests, these are assets that will be distributed outside of the probate process. Such assets include the following: Assets and property held in a living trust Property owned in joint tenancy Assets designated in community property agreements Joint financial accou