When you think of going to court, you likely think of doling out thousands of dollars in legal fees and costs. For this reason, you may assume that probate is always expensive and you may even be worried that it will significantly diminish the value of the estate. The truth is that probate does not have to be costly and the following is some additional information about the cost of probate in the state of Washington .
Probate May Not Be Necessary
Washington State probate laws do not require you to file for probate for every estate. In fact, there are only certain estates–such as higher value estates–that should always be put through probate. If you have a relatively simple estate to administer and there are no legal requirements, you can skip the time and cost of probate altogether. In such instances, in order to claim certain property, you would have to fill out an affidavit with required information set out in the law1 and send it to the state Department of Social and Health Services. The only costs would be that of preparing and sending the affidavit.
As a personal representative or beneficiary, you can also petition the court to grant Nonintervention Powers, which allows for a more simplified version of probate. This allows you to administer the estate and distribute property without the probate court’s supervision. This can save money for court appearances, filings, and additional legal costs of full probate. There will still be some costs associated with the process of winding up the estate and petitioning the court, but these will likely not impact the value of the estate significantly .
If you do require formal probate, there will be some costs involved, but likely not as much as you would imagine. Some of the costs include the following:
- Filing free with court = $240.
- Publishing the Notice to Creditors =$126-$600 (varies depending on your county).
- Commission for the personal representative = the amount is based on the complexity of the estate administration , however, this can be waived by the personal representative, which is common if it is a family member or beneficiary.
- Attorney’s fees = A lawyer is not required but, if you do choose to hire a probate lawyer, the law2 limits their fees to a “just and reasonable” amount based on hours worked.
Of course, the cost of probate can be substantially increased if any disputes or will contests arise, requiring additional court hearings and work of your attorney.