Probate Attorney in Sumner, Washington
For most people, the idea of probate may seem confusing and overwhelming. Whether you are looking for ways to avoid probate while creating an estate plan or were appointed as an executor or administrator of someone else’s estate, you need to understand what probate is and how it works.
The probate attorney at Terry Law Firm, P.S. can guide you through the probate process in Washington. With an office in Sumner, Attorney Scott Terry helps clients resolve any probate issues that may arise during the process from start to finish. Terry Law Firm, P.S. serves clients throughout the state of Washington, including in Puyallup, Kent, Bonney Lake, and Auburn, as well as Pierce, Thurston, and King counties.
What Is Probate?
Probate is a formal, court-supervised process that takes place after a person’s death. The probate process involves settling the decedent’s debts, authenticating their will, and distributing their assets to beneficiaries and heirs. Probate involves a lot of legality and paperwork, which is why you may need the assistance of a skilled probate attorney to guide you through the process.
Assets that generally go through probate include:
Automobiles, real estate, financial accounts, and other assets titled in the decedent’s name
Personal possessions, including collections, clothing, jewelry, and household items
Typically, assets with beneficiary designations outside of the will and assets held in a living trust are not subject to probate in Washington. The same can be said about pension benefits and life insurance proceeds payable to named beneficiaries.
If you are creating an estate plan and want to help your loved ones avoid probate, consider contacting our estate planning attorney in Sumner, Washington, who will assist you in preparing a proper plan for your assets and estate. Our attorney and staff will also help you with probate administration if you were appointed as an executor or an administrator of an estate.
Probate in Washington
Washington law does not require probate to take place after a person’s death, even if the decedent died without a will. In Washington, probate is considered a discretionary proceeding. However, probate in Washington may be necessary if any of the following is true:
The decedent has real property titled in their own name; or
The decedent has personal property (also known as their estate) titled in their own name where the net value of the estate exceeds $100,000.
Typically, estates worth up to $100,000 in Washington can avoid probate. If a decedent left behind a will, Washington law does not require the document to be probated, only to be filed following the decedent’s death.
The Probate Process
When probate is necessary, the person named in the decedent’s will to serve as an executor has to initiate the probate process by going to the court, usually in the county where the decedent lived. If the decedent had a will, the executor files the document along with a Petition for Probate. The first thing the probate court does is authenticate the will to prove it is a valid one.
If the decedent died intestate (had no will), the probate court will appoint an administrator who then has to file a Petition for Administration of the Estate to initiate the process. The executor/administrator must also notify all interested parties, including family members and relatives.
During the probate process, the executor or administrator must collect and manage estate property, settle debts, pay taxes, and distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. If there is a will, the executor/administrator must follow the instructions outlined in the document. If the decedent died with no will, their assets would be distributed to heirs according to the state’s intestate succession laws.
Depending on the size of the estate and whether there are any legal issues during probate, the process may take anywhere from ten months to over a year.
Serving Sumner, Washington
The probate attorney at Terry Law Firm, P.S. can help you resolve any legal complications that may arise during the probate process. Attorney Scott Terry can assist you in estate administration and creating an estate plan that fits your needs and minimizes or avoids probate. With an office in Sumner, Washington, Terry Law Firm, P.S. serves clients in Puyallup, Auburn, Orting, Kent, Lake Tapps, and Bonney Lake. Contact Attorney Terry today to discuss your case.