Probate can be overwhelming to understand if you are not familiar with it already. It is a legal process where the court appoints a person to distribute assets from the deceased person to their beneficiaries. Furthermore, the personal representative or administrator of the decedent will collect and gather assets, pay debts and taxes and transfer assets to beneficiaries. Probate can prevent problems that may occur in a will, such as equal estate distribution and everything is done legally and under court supervision. In the State of Washington, the personal representative can act without court intervention on nearly all matter and attorney fees are not based on the value of the estate. Below we discuss some alternatives to probate
First determine if the value of the decedent’s property is under $100,000 and the assets qualify for a simplified procedure. One simplified procedure is called a Small Estate Affidavit and can only be used if:
· The estate has adequate assets to pay debts and taxes, and
· If there is a will, the personal representative named in the will petitions the court, or
· If there is no will, the surviving spouse petitions the court, the estate consists of community property (not individual property), and the deceased left no children or grandchildren from another relationship, or
· The Court determines it would be in the best interests of the beneficiaries and creditors, and the personal representative is not a creditor.
A small estate affidavit procedure can be used if the value of the probate assets, excluding any property interest the surviving spouses or domestic partner’s community, less liens, and encumbrances, is not more than $100,000.
If probate is needed, there are a few things that you need to get in order when filing for probate; a death certificate, the original will (if there is one), and the names and addresses of the heirs and beneficiaries. All the beneficiaries and heirs need to receive notice from the personal representative and retain their signatures. Depending on the circumstance, other documents may be required.
If you live in Washington state and are looking to file probate, but do not know where to start, call us today. You can reach us at (206) 408-8158. We look forward to assisting you.