At DAL Law, we understand that proceeding with Probate at the time of grieving the loss of your loved one can be very difficult. We are committed to making the process as simple as possible, and you can rest assured that we will guide you along during this process. While each probate can be slightly different, below is a general overview of the probate process.
At the initial consultation, we generally meet with the person elected in the Decedent’s Will to serve as Personal Representative. In the event there is not a Will, this initial consultation is most effective when it is with the surviving spouse or other immediate family member. Please bring two certified death certificates along with the original Will, if there is a Will. Prior to our first meeting, we will also provide you with a questionnaire to complete regarding the Decedent.
2. Signing Appointment
After our initial consultation, our office will prepare the initial documents necessary to open probate for the Estate of the Decedent. We will schedule a second appointment for you to return to review and sign the documents necessary to open Probate with the Court.
3. Court Hearing.
Our office will attend a court hearing to request the judge to approve our request to open probate for the Decedent. Your appearance is not necessary for us to open probate, we will take care of this for you. Once the judge approves the request, we will simultaneously obtain Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration, which is a court document which verifies your authority to act on behalf of the Estate of the Decedent.
After the court approves the opening of probate, there are a number of notices our office will issue. We will issue notices to heirs, known creditors, the State of Washington, and state law also requires that we publish notice to any unknown creditors in a local newspaper. After publishing the notice in the newspaper, we have a four month waiting period, in which creditors have that time to file any claims against the Estate for debts owed.
5. Your Responsibility
While we are waiting during this four month period, we will obtain a TIN (Tax Identification Number) for the Estate, which you will need in order to open an estate bank account. All of the Decedent’s bank accounts should be liquidated and consolidated into the Estate’s bank account. In addition, assets of the Decedent may be liquidated and deposited into the Estate bank account as well. It is important that you keep an accounting of the Decedent’s estate, as our office will need to prepare an inventory of the Estate as well.
6. Final Distributions and Closing the Estate
Once the four month period has lapsed, all assets have been acquired and all debts paid, the Probate will then be ready to be closed. We will work with you to determine the proper disbursement calculations, and prepare the final documents to close the Probate. Once the final probate documents have been filed with the Court, the Estate is closed and you are relieved from your duties as the Personal Representative.