Probate is the legal (court) process used to settle a deceased person’s estate.
If you die with a Will in place, you are said to die “testate,” and probate proceeds according to the terms of your Will. It is your Will that appoints the Personal Representative or Executor of your Estate, and it is this person’s job to inventory your assets, settle any and all obligations (including estate taxes), and distribute your assets to the beneficiaries named in your Will.
The document that grants a Personal Representative/Executor the power to settle a deceased person’s estate is called “Letters Testamentary,” and these can only be issued by a Washington State Superior Court after the Court is provided with the Will, a Petition from the proposed Personal Representative/Executor, and a sworn statement from the proposed Personal Representative/Executor wherein he/she swears to fulfill his/her duties according to the laws of the State of Washington.
If you die without a Will in place, you are said to die “intestate,” and state law dictates who can administer your Estate and who your heirs are.
Even though Washington State has a streamlined and relatively cost-effective probate process, it can still be tricky to navigate. Our attorneys can help you through these rough times and ensure that the Estate of a loved one is settled according to the terms of a Will and/or the laws of the State of Washington.