Probate is the legal process of settling a person's estate once they die; paying creditors and transferring the remaining assets to the heirs and beneficiaries. If you've heard of probate, what you may have heard probably wasn't positive. There are many misconceptions about the process.
MISCONCEPTION #1: PROBATE SHOULD BE FEARED AND AVOIDED. It is true that, in some states, probate can be a difficult and expensive process. Fortunately, that's not the case in Washington or Idaho. Probate in Washington and Idaho is much easier than in other states, and often the appropriate process for administering an estate. It can be necessary and helpful in some situations, like where a Supplemental Needs Trust needs to be established for a disabled child who receives public benefits. Complicated estates with considerable assets are typically best handled via probate. If the estate needs creditor protection or there is dissension among the heirs and beneficiaries, the oversight of the court and probate law will minimize difficulty for the estate.
MISCONCEPTION #2: PROBATE IS ALWAYS A LONG, DRAWN-OUT PROCESS. Many people believe that probate is synonymous with lengthy court proceedings. This is usually not true. Depending on the language of the Will or if the court allows, the Personal Representative can serve with nonintervention powers, which means with legal authority to act without court oversight unless necessary.
Sometimes the length of probate depends on whether it is desirable to utilize the benefits of the creditor protection laws, which require the Personal Representative to notify reasonably ascertainable creditors of the impending probate proceedings, but restricts the amount of time they have to present their claims.
A typical probate in Washington or Idaho should last 6 to 9 months.
If you have questions about probate and how we can be of service to you, your family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to set up an appointment. We proudly serve clients throughout Washington and Idaho and are available to meet in person, by phone, or via Skype or FaceTime.