Category: Probate Process

  • 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

  • Is Probate Necessary in Washington State?

    A common term that you might hear after someone passes away is “probate.” Probate is the process of administering an estate by collecting assets, settling debts, and making distributions to family members. This process is overseen by the court to ensure that the estate is properly administered and can resolve any disputes. If your loved one dies, you may wonder whether probate is necessary for your situation. In Washington State, probates aren’t mandatory. However, while that’s true from a technical standpoint, from a practical one, the majority of estates should absolutely use probate process. In other words, usually it is a benefit to file for probate, even if you do not need to. It is also important to note that while Washington law does not

  • Can a Living Trust Help Avoid Probate in Washington?

    Thinking about what will happen to your family after you die is unpleasant. For that reason, many people don't take the time to evaluate the estate planning tools available to them or plan effectively for the distribution of their assets . Unless you have taken steps to avoid it, your assets will go into probate at the time of your death. The probate court will gather all of your probate assets and distribute them according to the terms of your will. If no will was drafted, the assets will be distributed according to Washington State law.1. The process of probating your estate is time-consuming, intrusive, and expensive. It can, however, be avoided with some planning. An attorney can provide you with information on a variety of estate planning tools and

  • 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

  • Steps in Administering an Estate

    Many people think that by making a will, they are taking the burden off of their family members when it comes to estate administration after their death. However, property does not magically distribute itself and there are actually several components to closing an estate. While these steps will vary depending on the nature and complexity of the estate, the following are some of the common steps in estate administration. Opening an Estate Account All transactions should go through a special account for the estate and not through the deceased person's personal accounts. Once you have stopped all direct deposits in the personal accounts, that account should be closed and all liquid assets should be transferred to the estate account. All bills, taxes, and

  • 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

  • How a Probate Attorney Can Help the Executor of an Estate

    Death, while inevitable, is a topic that most people avoid. Even those who have developed a plan for their estate may have assets or liabilities that will still require attention after they pass away. Common examples include: paying taxes, settling debts, gathering the assets and determining proper distribution. Often times, these responsibilities are left to a family member, designated either by the deceased or by the courts.This person is called the executor of the estate. While the executor may recognize the honor of making sure their loved one's affairs are properly handled, they are understandably distracted by other emotions. Thankfully, a trained Washington probate attorney knows exactly what to do to assist an executor with these responsibili

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