Administering an estate after a loved one passes can be a very stressful and difficult time for many people. Working with an experienced Spokane, Tri Cities or Coeur d’Alene probate attorney can help to reduce additional stress.
What is a Probate in Washington?
Probate is the court-supervised process used to distribute the estate of the deceased. The probate process consists of:
- filing a petition with the court to appoint a personal representative
- paying off debts
- distributing assets
- filing an inventory of the estate
- closing the probate
Probate can be a lengthy and costly process. A Probate with no hiccups can take about six months. A Probate with problems or contentions can take even longer. Appropriate Estate Planning can prevent friends and family from having to go through the probate process, however, if a Probate is necessary our probate attorneys can guide you each step of the way and help make an unfortunate situation a little less difficult.
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If you are located in Eastern Washington or Northern Idaho but can’t make it to our office, please contact us for a free virtual consultation.
What is the Affidavit Procedure?
Some estates can be administered by utilizing the Small Estate Affidavit procedure. For this process, the estate must be valued at less than $100,000.00, must not consist of real property, and forty days have to have passed since the date of death. This is a simple process that we can help you with.
Frequently Asked Questions About Probate in Spokane and Tri-Cities
Is There Any Way You Can Avoid Probate?
Not all items need to pass through probate. For example, if you have items held in a revocable trust or with a specific beneficiary or designations like 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.
How Long Does Probate Typically Take?
The probate process in can vary anywhere from four months up to a year. However, it can take even longer than that for complicated or contested estates. Probate is a complicated process with many moving pieces. The process can take several years if family members challenge the estate or find themselves at odds with the bequests.
Who Is Responsible for Initiating Probate?
The executor of a will is responsible to initiate the probate process, retain an attorney, and take care of all financial obligations the deceased person left behind. An executor is usually named in a will, but the probate court will appoint a relative to handle the probate process if no will is available.
What Happens During the Probate Process?
The executor of a will, or an individual appointed by the probate court if there wasn’t a will, is responsible for dispersing real and personal property and collecting debts owed to the deceased. A list of assets in the estate is prepared and beneficiaries named in the will (or heirs-at-law if there isn’t a will) are notified of the probate proceedings. It’s up to the beneficiaries to file claims for any debts owed to them. State and federal taxes are paid from the estate. The title to the decedent’s property is cleared so that the property can be passed on to the beneficiaries or sold.
What Type of Assets Aren’t Subject to Probate?
Assets jointly held or held with a right of survivorship (ownership is transferred once someone passes away) are not subject to probate. Estates with assets valued below $100,000 and no real property can also avoid probate, depending on the complexity of the assets owned. Lastly, retirement accounts with beneficiary designations and life insurance policies are not subject to probate.
When Will Our Family Receive Property or Assets?
The probate court won’t allow the final distribution of property and assets until all debts have been paid, including court fees, estate taxes, and other debts. The dispersal timeline is dependent on many factors.
Why Should I Hire a Probate Attorney in Eastern Washington or Northern Washington?
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. Contact us on your behalf!
When Can I Sell the House from an Estate?
If an estate contains property, it cannot be sold until probate is opened and an executor is appointed.
How Much Do Attorneys Charge for Probate Cases?
Legal fees will vary depending on the firm and the complexity of the estate. Attorneys often charge an hourly rate for the time spent on a case. Please contact Evergreen Elder Law to inquire about our rates.
What Is Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship?
Joint tenancy with the right of survivorship is the most common form of asset ownership between spouses. Joint tenancy assets have the advantage of avoiding probate at the death of the first spouse.
Why Should You Make Estate Planning Your Top Priority?
- You can expose yourself, your family, and your assets to the lengthy and costly probate process and otherwise avoidable death taxes. Minor children may not end up with the guardians you want.
- Without naming a legal guardian in your Estate Plan, friends and family could battle out custody in court. This can create unnecessary expenses and litigation for your estate and heirs.
- If you don’t plan for the possibility of incapacity, you will have no say in who makes medical and financial decisions for you. The court will be forced to appoint a guardian, not of your choosing. This process can be very expensive and time-consuming.
Contact a Probate Attorney Today
Contact our experienced and knowledgeable staff to avoid these serious mistakes. We can guide you each step of the way. Set up a free consultation so we can apply our expertise and get a comprehensive plan in place.