What is Probate, Anyway?

Probate is the legal process for handling the affairs of a person after they pass away. While this is understandably an emotionally difficult process for the loved ones of someone who has passed, thankfully the probate process in Washington State is a fairly simple one. Probate involves opening an estate to gather and divide your loved ones assets. It is how inheritances are passed down and the debts of the deceased are paid.

What if your loved one did not have a will? Although having a will helps streamline the process of settling an estate, there is a procedure called Estate Administration under which you can settle final affairs without a will. An Estate Administrator can be anyone who has an interest in the estate, whereas an Executor is specifically named in the deceased person’s will.

Estate Administration and Probate follow similar paths:

  1.  The Administrator or Executor will open a case with the Superior Court for the estate by filing documents and receiving an order from a court official granting them power to handle the Estate.
  2. The Executor or Administrator then has the duty of notifying all of the deceased person’s heirs, next of kin and potential creditors (those to whom the deceased owed money when they passed), as well as certain government agencies.
  3. The Executor or Administrator is required to inventory all of the deceased’s assets and debts as of the date of their death.
  4. An executor or administrator is also responsible for handling payment of the deceased person’s debts and distribution of their assets to their heirs or next of kin.

Each of these steps requires filing different notices and legal paperwork, both with the court and with parties who have an interest in the estate.  If you find yourself with questions about the probate process, don’t hesitate to contact Limitless Law PLLC at (360) 685-0145 for help.