What is probate?
When someone dies, probate is the legal process for establishing the validity of their will or determining who should receive the possessions of someone who died without a will. Washington State has one of the shortest probate processes in the country. It is usually concluded within six months.
Yet, even with a will probate can be complex. This is especially true for administrators and executors for whom this is the first time. If you are in that position, let one of our probate attorneys guide you through the process to assure that you are implementing your friend or loved one´s wishes and preserve the estate.
3 stages of probate
Probate has three stages. Opening, administration, and closing.
- You open the probate by asking the court to prove the will (recognize it) and appoint the executor. The executor then notifies all parties including heirs and beneficiaries and the banks, mortgage companies, insurance companies and other entities that hold or are concerned with the estate assets.
- Then comes the work of administration. Tasks include paying debts and managing and, in some cases, liquidating assets.
- You close the estate when you distribute the assets to the beneficiaries. The final task is filing a report with the court.
If there is no will, the court will appoint an executor based on a list established by law. The executor will then distribute the assets based on the law for estates without a will.
Most people who are assigned the job of executor have never handled probate before. Even if you are completely new to probate law or to financial matters, the law will hold you accountable for mistakes and loss due to those mistakes, if you are the administrator or executor. Thus it pays, to spend some time consulting a probate attorney during the process.
We can guide you
Bring all your questions to John Groseclose and Norman Short. They will explain the process in detail, assist you with the forms and be available to answer your questions. Either Norm or John will expertly take on any portion of the process you assign them. Set up an appointment today.