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What does the probate process look like in Washington?

The word "probate: usually invokes horror stories from Washington residents. But, the truth is probate is not as bad as some would lead you to believe. For this reason, knowing the probate process may be helpful to ease the fears in families.

There are several steps a person needs to take when going through the probate process in Washington. First, a petition is filed in court that states the will is the official will of the deceased. The personal representative of the estate will also need to sign a sworn oath. Once a person has been assigned personal representative of the estate they will need to give notice to everyone named in the will and any heirs. The Department of Social and Health Services will also need to be notified and they will determine if the deceased owes any back child support. The deceased assets will then need to be reviewed. This will include all assets, including investments, bank accounts, real estate, bonds, and insurance policies. Safe deposit boxes should also be analyzed, and there may be benefits from the Veterans Administration, Social Security Administration, and pensions that should be applied for.

As the personal representative works through the estate they should keep a record of all assets and appraisement in an inventory. Debts should also be accounted for, and creditors will need to be notified of the death. The personal representative will also need to pay bills, file taxes, maintain insurance, etc., all while the estate is worked through. Once the taxes and other expenses are paid, the beneficiaries should receive their assets. The estate will be closed once this is completed.

A legal professional who is skilled in estate planning knows the Washington probate process and can help a family with any questions they might have regarding this process. After all, the probate does not have to be a complicated and involved matter. An attorney can help a family through the process and make it as painless as possible.

Source: FindLaw, "Washington probate laws", accessed on Aug. 6, 2017

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