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.
Estate planning is for all families
Estate planning law for all adults
Every responsible adult can benefit from estate planning. We tend to think that estate planning is only for the wealthy and elderly. Yet, if you have people who depend on you, one of the best things you can do for them is to begin planning now.
Wills, trusts, health care directives and powers of attorney protect you and the people you love. Make estate planning a part of your roadmap to your financial goals. Let us guide you as you chart your course to a secure future.
- Your will: Family changes and moving to another state usually require changes to your will. Changing your will every time your financial situation changes significantly is a smart move. Our attorneys will also review your existing will to make sure it can withstand a challenge.
- Trusts: Determine which type of trust best meets your needs. Is it a special needs trust, a testamentary trust, a revocable living trust, an irrevocable living trust or a charitable trust?
- Powers of attorney and health care directives: Who would handle your affairs or make medical decisions for you if you became incapacitated?
- Probate: Do you need guidance in fulfilling your duties as the executor of an estate following the death of a family member?
GSJones Law Group, P.S. has two attorneys experienced in estate planning law.
- advise you of your rights;
- help ensure that assets are transferred according to your wishes after death;
- help prevent or respond to probate litigation;
- assist out-of-town family members when a loved one dies in Washington, leaving estate matters to be resolved.
They are happy to advise you in special cases, such as:
- Small probate cases, perhaps involving only a car or other limited amounts of property
- Intestate succession: a case of someone dying without a will
- Estate matters for individuals dying without children or identifiable next of kin (perhaps your neighbor or friend)
Contact us to plan for your family’s future
Estate: Literally, everything you own, including that old car you keep saying you’re going to fix up, but also the big stuff like your bank accounts, businesses and home.
Estate planning: The preparation for transferring all that you own to others when you die or become incapacitated. It includes various ways of protecting your assets in the transfer.
Estate Tax: A tax applied to your estate upon transfer to the heirs. The estate tax only applies to the wealthy, multi-millionaires.
Trusts: There are a number of different types of trusts. The most common types are similar to a will in that they direct what happens with at least parts of your estate. The difference is that they can be in effect while you are alive. They are often used to reduce estate taxes and avoid probate
Wills: A Last Will (and testament) contains the instructions about what to do with your estate at your death. A Living Will states your wishes for your medical care if you are unable to make those decisions.
Is joint ownership a good substitute for a will?
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