Estate Planning can be like a jigsaw puzzle. Picture each piece of the “Estate Planning Puzzle” as part of an overall Estate Plan. Individual pieces could be called “Living Trust”, another could be “Will”, another “Probate” and so on until all the pieces when put together complete the puzzle. If you are interested in learning how to avoid probate in Washington, you’re in the right place.
What is Probate in the State of Washington?
First, let’s talk about Probate and what it means. Simply put, Probate is a court-supervised process to distribute the estate of the deceased. It consists of getting a personal representative appointed, paying off debts, distribution of assets, filing an inventory of the estate, and then wrapping up the Probate. I tell my clients to expect about six months if all goes well. If the Probate runs into problems, it can take longer and be costly.
Is Probate Required in Washington State?
When working with a client on an Estate Plan, one of the first questions they ask is how they can make the transfer of assets to their beneficiaries as easy as possible and avoid unnecessary costs. Here’s the good news! Washington State law does NOT necessarily require a probate proceeding. It is discretionary and usually filed because someone want it to be filed.
The most common reason for Probate is that the decedent died holding real property in his/her own name or has personal property valued at over $100,000. For other assets such as an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), these don’t need to be probated. Washington probate law also allows an individual to make payable-on-death or transfer-on-death designations for many assets, including real property and bank account balances.
Work With An Experienced Estate Planning Attorney To Avoid Unnecessary Probate
As you can see this can get complicated very quickly. While you aren’t legally required to retain a probate attorney in either area, it’s advisable due to the complexity of the court process. A dedicated probate attorney such as Evergreen Elder Law understands probate laws and regulations and how they apply to your situation. Many individuals don’t have the time to make court appearances, gather documents, and file the paperwork, let alone even have the knowledge and experience to ensure it’s done correctly.
But more than that, we can help with ensuring your Estate Plan covers how you want your estate distributed. By having the proper legal documents in place you will have completed the “Estate Planning” puzzle. It will now be ready to make the transfer of assets to your beneficiaries as easy as possible and avoid unnecessary costs.
Take advantage of a free consultation today.