Losing a loved one is never easy. Divvying up his or her estate can be a pain, particularly if he or she failed to create an estate plan. In the state of Washington, probate may be necessary before assets can be passed on to beneficiaries, but it is not always required. Every case is different.
What is probate? It is a discretionary proceeding at which all estate documents are examined, creditors and taxes are paid and then assets are distributed to beneficiaries. If a formal probate proceeding is called for, a personal representative will be put in charge of handling everything. The person assigned to this role may have been named by the deceased or a judge may appoint the person he or she deems fit to tackle the role.
Why would a formal probate process be needed? If a person dies without a will or other estate planning documents prepared, probate may be needed. If the person left a last will and testament, probate will be needed to validate the will and settle the estate. If any family members or creditors have concerns they want addressed, probate may be needed. If an estate is particularly large and proper protections were not put in place for the assets, probate may be needed.
Is it possible to skip a formal probate proceeding? Yes. It all depends on estate size and what actions were taken by the decedent to protect his or her assets. Those individuals who are left having to close out a loved one’s estate in the state of Washington can turn to a local attorney for help getting through estate administration and, if necessary, the formal probate process.