What is the Definition of an Estate?
An estate is a combination of multiple things, such as assets, real estate holdings, stocks, bonds, safety deposit boxes, costly collections, savings and checking accounts, CDs, liabilities, taxes, debts, bills, fees, and more. Your estate is the legal holder of all the things that make up your estate as listed.
What is Probate?
The probate system in Washington helps to protect your estate after you die. Probate decides what happens with your money and which bills the court pays with leftover funds from your estate. Probate determines how much of your estate needs selling to pay these debts, and the beneficiaries receive excess funds.
The probate court makes all the decisions about your estate. Court decisions may be what you would not have wanted to happen. For this reason, it is vital for our probate attorney to legally draw up your wishes in a will before you die.
When a loved one dies, there is a grief process that the survivors must cope with. This grief process can take weeks, months, years, and sometimes the survivor can never cope with this loss entirely. There should never be excessive worries about the deceased’s assets.
Make Wise End-of-Life Decisions
If you are wise about your assets and finances, you will have your personal information in order as much as possible. When you die, you leave no medical questions or financial mess for your survivors to deal with, in addition to dealing with their grief about your death. It is a misconception that probate attorneys are only for the wealthy. If you want to take the work and worry about your assets should you die, probate attorneys can help you?
When you put all of your assets in order and name advocates ahead of time, your family may be able to avoid probate court. You do not want to go through probate court if you can help it, as there can be many possible problems and headaches that come with the probate system. This court has the power to make all decisions regarding your estate, health, and finances if you do not make these decisions beforehand. Your loved ones have little to say. Additionally, probate court costs your estate unnecessary money. These costs are much more than you would pay your attorney for estate help.
Probate Laws vary across the States
While each state has a basic probate court system, the laws for probate may vary among these states. Some states have simple probate laws. Other states have complex probate laws. In either case, it is wise to have a seasoned, experienced, and licensed probate attorney to make sure you have all your medical and financial requests drawn up legally. We have been representing families and estates for over 30 years. You must contact a probate attorney to help you sort out your estate before it is too late. This probate attorney can inform you of all the rules, regulations, and statutes of limitations as it applies to the state of Washington.
Uniform Probate Code
In 2022, twenty states currently adopted a law known as the Uniform Probate Code. This code aims to make the probate system more straightforward and standard across these states, as it applies to intestacy, wills, and trusts. Washington State is not one of those twenty states to enact the Uniform Probate Code. Probate laws are complex in Washington.
What are Your Reasons for Not Seeking Probate Help?
Seeking legal information and help in drawing up estate documents takes the expertise of a probate attorney. Legal assistance is needed because most states’ various laws and rules governing probate are complex and complicated. The following are a few of the common questions we answer every day.
- Have you drawn up your Advanced Directives for medical and finances? Written Advanced Directives tell your doctors your wishes for your medical issues should you no longer make your healthcare decisions. If you do not have an Advanced Medical Directive, there is a good chance that doctors will make these medical decisions for you, and they may or may not be what you or your loved ones want.
- Do you have a Last Will and Testament?
- Are you hesitant to talk about your death and dying because it is such a complex subject?
- Do you want to get your affairs in order, but you do not know where to begin?
- Do you neglect to speak with a probate attorney because you feel you cannot afford an attorney? If you do not have your assets protected, probate court could cost you much more money than the fee your attorney charges.
- Do you wonder if you need a trust fund?
- Who will settle your affairs?
- Who will receive your property and other personal assets?
- If you have minors in the home and you should pass away, who will raise your children?
- Do you have a business?
- What about your intellectual property?
What Does a Probate Attorney Do?
Your probate attorney in Washington State can help you legally draw up your Advanced Directives for Medical and Financial. These forms take effect, appointing the person you designate to make all of your medical and financial decisions for you in the event you can no longer make these decisions. Your probate attorney in Washington State helps you avoid the problems that occur when the proper documents are not filed promptly to prevent your estate from going through the probate process.
It is your Washington State probate attorney who helps you design a unique estate plan that covers all of your assets and legally makes sure your goals, wishes, and desires are put into action, protecting your loved ones. Our seasoned, experienced, and licensed probate attorneys provide a host of other services to put your mind at ease regarding what happens to your estate after you die—we offer the following benefits, some of which may or may not apply to your unique situation.
- Our attorney explains the legal process after a loved one dies, related to postmortem estate planning.
- We will assist you in designing Advanced Directives for Medical and Financial.
- We will help you in uniquely creating your will.
- We protect assets for heirs and beneficiaries and from those whom you do not designate in your will.
- We can design guardianships.
- If you need to contest a will, we can help you.
- We stand by you and guide you through the estate, probate, and trust litigation process.
- We handle formal and summary probate administration.
- We take estate inventory.
- We represent personal representatives.
- We will appoint an administrator of your will.
- We handle all court filings, phone calls, tax issues, legal paperwork.
- Your attorney handles every aspect of your case, which gives you comfort in knowing that you have all your matters legally in order in the event you die.
- We handle defective wills and trusts
- We help recover finances from elder abuse.
We understand how traumatic death is for family members. It makes no difference if your death is expected or unexpected. There remains a grief process that family members must be allowed to go through without worrying about estate matters. It is best if you and your loved ones leave all the legalities to your probate attorney so you can take care of your family and heal.
Our probate lawyers will handle your estate effectively, efficiently, and professionally while providing you with excellent personal service. Our esteemed attorneys file a probate petition. The court establishes your executor. In addition, our attorneys address the numerous filing of pleadings required by the court. These may include an inventory and appraisal of your estate and assets. We handle all aspects of the validity of your will and if it is in question. We send notices to all creditors to know that their investments are in probate court. We respond to all claims and inquiries from your creditors.
We are responsible for transferring all deceased assets to your beneficiaries, including real estate titles. We handle all of your tax issues and know how to decrease your estate taxes to the lowest possible amount. We work hard on your behalf to make sure that the majority of your estate transfers to your beneficiaries and not the government.
If you should pass away and you have minor children, we make sure that your minor children are put under the care of their legal guardians or whomever you designated as legal guardians for your children.
It would be best to name an executor to manage your assets. The executor makes sure that all your assets are divided among your survivors as you designate in your will. When we help you make out your will, you can name your attorney as your legal executor, or you can name someone else. If we become your legal executor, we will take out our fee from your estate. If you name someone else as your will’s executor, we ensure that this person understands Washington’s probate laws.
The executor of your will,
- Become responsible and protect your estate assets, legal claims, and distribution of assets to your beneficiaries for those you name in your will
- Organize all the documents about your estate
- Organizes wealth
- Pays creditors
- Pays taxes
- Spreads leftover wealth among beneficiaries according to your wishes
Legal Wills designate what you want to do with your estate after you die. A legal will still give you some power after your death to which family members, friends, or organizations receive a portion of your estate. If you never draw up a will, all your assets are sent to the closest family members according to the probate laws in the state of Washington.
The Steps to Probate in Washington
It benefits you greatly if you give us a call, meet with us, and we will file probate for you. You can file probate yourself and find the following steps outlined in what you must do. It makes more sense to leave all of this responsibility up to your probate attorney, familiar with the probate laws in Washington.
- Open probate by submitting a simplified form to the court. Ask the court to recognize that the will you have is the last known will of the deceased. The court finds out if the will is witnessed and legally signed. You will tell the court that you are the deceased’s personal representative. If the court finds the will is legitimate, the court issues an order to admit the will to probate. The court issues an order recognizing you as a personal representative. The court gives you legal letters of authority to represent the deceased. If the deceased does not have a will, the court appoints a personal representative.
- The personal representative’s responsibility is to notify everyone listed in the will and those heirs not recorded that you are acting on behalf of the deceased.
- It would be best to let the Department of Social and Health Services know about the death. The confirmation of unpaid child support exists. This department checks in on heirs, money that comes to you, and money you may owe in child support.
- This person must review all forms of investments and all information concerning assets. Information can include stocks, bonds, CDs, checking and savings accounts, safety deposit boxes, real estate, property deeds, insurance policies, and more. Your file for Social Security death benefits, seek employer pensions, find VA pensions, list assets such as jewelry, vehicles, paintings, antiques, furniture, and more.
- You must create an inventory and apply the value of each item as close as you can estimate or seek a professional appraisal of the item.
- Determine all debts owed by the deceased. Review the deceased’s financial records and bills owed. Pay what is reasonably due.
- Send letters to creditors that the person is deceased and request balances due. In Washington, creditors have up to one year to ask for their money. This does not apply if you publish a notice of the death and keep the message running for three weeks in the local newspaper. In this situation, the creditor has four months to claim payment.
- You manage the deceased assets for about four months. You have time to set up a record system and open a probate checking account. Other duties within these four months include,
- Filing taxes
- Maintaining insurance
- Collecting dividends and interest
- Paying outstanding debts
- Filing and collecting receipts
- If the deceased has a business, you must supervise that interest.
- You must pay all debts and monitor the time limit for collection. Distribute assets to beneficiaries providing there are assets left. When a beneficiary receives assets, get a signed receipt from the beneficiary.
- You can close the estate by declaring everything you did and completing all probate steps. You must wait an additional 30 days after turning over all receipts to the court to see if anyone objects to your actions. If no one objects, you are discharged as the deceased personal representative.