When someone dies, their property must be distributed and their creditors paid. The distribution process is typically done through "probate." Probate requires someone acting on behalf of the deceased person (the “decedent”) to gather property, notify and pay off creditors, pay taxes, and distribute the remaining property to the decedent’s heirs according to his or her Will.
The Will is filed with the Court (Superior Court in Washington; District Court in Idaho). The Court will then issue Letters Testamentary to give someone the ability to act on behalf of the estate; this person is known as the Personal Representative of the estate. Probate can be an expensive process because it is done through the court system. Proper estate planning can allow an individual to avoid to costs associated with probate.
If a person dies with a Will, the person is considered to have died "testate." A person that dies without a Will is considered to have died "intestate." Dying testate or intestate requires the deceased’s property be distributed. If the person dies intestate, then the state determines how the property will be distributed, therefore we recommend that you hire an estate planning lawyer to avoid having the State determine who gets your property.
If you have been giving notice of a probate filing regarding your loved one, it may benefit you to retain an attorney to represent your interests. If you believe that the your loved one had different plans for their distribution of property, we can help you challenge a Will or Trust. Challenging a Will or Trust requires showing that the decedent was susceptible to influence and was indeed taken advantage of. Contact us for more information regarding your situation.
We can help guide you through the probate process. We understand that probate can be an emotional process and we seek to provide quality service so that you have peace of mind knowing your loved one’s estate is being handled properly. Contact us today at 253.858.5434 if you need help with the probate process.