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James A. Jones, Attorney At Law
Plan Today, Peace of Mind Tomorrow

How probate court could affect heirs

It's a common belief that going to probate court can be a major difficulty for heirs in Washington. However, this may not always be the case. By planning ahead, an estate plan can make the probate process as easy as possible for everyone involved. The first step is to make sure the benefactor has a will. In the will, an executor who is in charge of distributing assets to the heirs can be named. This means the court will not need to name an executor.

There are several tactics estate planners can use to avoid probate. One is to name heirs as co-owners on banking accounts and other assets. This does, however, come with some risks. One heir could decide to run off with a large sum of money or expensive asset never to be found again. Another way to possibly avoid probate is to set up a revocable trust where all the assets can be protected and distributed according to the benefactors wishes.

Some families should worry more about litigation than ending up in probate court. Despite the language in a will being clear, some heirs may not be satisfied with the distribution of assets. These kinds of disputes may be based on legitimate grievances, but they are often the result of feuds that have been going on in the family for years.

Heirs who are required to go to probate court could benefit from the representation of an attorney. It's the responsibility of the attorney to represent the best interests of their client whether or not there is a will involved in probate. If necessary, legal counsel could take steps to ensure that a will is valid and that all taxes are handled properly. Having a lawyer during probate is especially important for large estates with complex asset portfolios.

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