When a loved one dies there are frequently many complex issues to be resolved.
Often, whether the individual died having executed a Last Will and Testament or not, these issues are resolved during the legal process called probate.
While each probate will vary in length and complexity of issues, our attorneys have over forty years of collective experience to guide our clients through the process.
Probate begins with the Court appointing a Personal Representative, also known as an Executor or Administrator. Generally, the Last Will and Testament will name the Personal Representative. However, if there is no Will or the named individual is unable or unwilling to serve, the Court will appoint another individual as Personal Representative. This person works closely with the attorney at each step of the probate process.
In a typical probate, the Personal Representative begins by marshalling the assets and creating an estate inventory. At the same time, the Personal Representative determines the outstanding debts of the decedent and notifies creditors, government agencies and other interested parties of the decedent's death. The Administrator liquidates or re-titles the assets, pays the debts of the estate, pays taxes, pays creditors in accordance with the statute, and distributes the net estate to the beneficiaries. The beneficiaries of the estate are either named in the decedent's Last Will and Testament or are determined by Washington's intestate succession statute.
Administration of a typical estate can be a lengthy and cumbersome process. Estate Administration can be made even more complex with challenges to the validity of the Will known as Will Contests, challenges to the identity of the heirs, concurrent personal injury or wrongful death legal actions, and challenges to the status of the individual serving as Personal Representative, including whether they are properly administering the estate.
In certain situations, probate can be avoided and it is wise to consult an experienced attorney about each specific situation. The death of a loved one is never an easy time, whether the legal matters left behind are simple or complex. Our attorneys and staff are here to assist with these necessary matters at this difficult time.