Probate is the legal procedure for administering an individual’s estate after he or she passes away. In general, probate involves collecting and inventorying all of the deceased person’s assets, identifying and notifying all beneficiaries, paying outstanding bills, filing required tax returns, and distributing assets to the beneficiaries. Probate is a very specific statutory process providing for the orderly administration of an estate. Probate can be extremely beneficial, but is not necessary in all cases. Some estates are considered “small” so can be handled by way of an affidavit process. Other estates may consist of assets that are non-probate, meaning that they pass to a named beneficiary without having to go through the probate. Everyone’s estate is different. Probate can be simple or complex, depending upon the circumstances. What’s important is to immediately consult an experienced Tri-Cities probate and estate lawyer for assistance.
If the decedent had a Will, it is admitted to the probate court for administration. The personal representative or executor named in the Will files a petition with the court to be formally appointed as personal representative and obtain authority to administer the Will. The personal representative then will proceed to pay bills and distribute assets according to the terms of the Will.
A probate, however, doesn’t always involve a Will. For example, if the deceased died without a Will, the assets will be distributed according to Washington intestacy laws. The law sets forth a certain order by which the deceased’s relatives inherit any of his or her assets. If there is no Will, thus, even if the deceased wanted or intended particular assets to go to certain persons, the assets instead must be distributed under intestacy laws.
The Washington probate lawyers of Elder Law Group PLLC know how to handle estates, whether they involve probate, non-probate proceedings or trust administration. However, before you or your loved ones reach that point, you should work with our attorneys to create a comprehensive estate plan that addresses all issues that may arise in your situation. We handle estate, probate, trust, and asset protection matters every day. We know how to devise the best strategy for handling your affairs. Don’t hesitate to call us today at (509) 468-0551 and see how we can help.