Why It is Generally Advised to Avoid Probate Proceedings
As mentioned, Washington law does not require a probate proceeding to be filed following death, regardless of whether the deceased person died testate or intestate. Essentially, probate is filed because someone wants it to be filed, and not because it is required.
If the estate of a deceased is part of a probate case, you must fill out several court forms with legal supervision. Preparing numerous probate forms that you must file can be overwhelming and time-consuming. Additionally, given the nature and volume of probate matter brought to court, the actual proceeding could take a lengthy period of time.
Because of the current court system, transferring property to heirs could take from six months to two years. This could also lead to unnecessary probate fees. Loss of privacy also becomes an issue. Since legal documents related to property transfer are filed at the courthouse, assets and intended beneficiaries become part of public information
Additionally, as a supposed heir, distributing the estate assets of the deceased is not something that you would want to be done by someone else. While the estate executor will likely be a family member, there are instances when the appointed executor is not. In such a case, executors could be entitled to receive fees on top of appraisal and court fees that they must pay.
It is best to consult with a local attorney to ensure that your actions will not lead to unwanted complications with these in mind. A dedicated probate attorney knowledgeable with probate laws and regulations and how they apply to your situation can explain these in more detail.
The Basic Definition of an Estate
Very broadly, inheritance refers to the passing of wealth from an individual to the succeeding generations. This transfer of cash, contents of a bank account, personal property, real property, and other assets account for a significant proportion of wealth throughout the United States.
An estate, meanwhile, is a related term that refers to everything that comprises the net worth of an individual. An estate can include
- monetary assets
- personal possessions
- financial securities
- real estate
- any assets owned by the owner of such an estate.
An estate often pertains to the economic valuation of an individual’s assets, investments, and interests for legal purposes. While real estate and other physical assets are typical examples, legally, the term may also include personal belongings, collectibles, art collections, and antique items or furnishings. Financially, estates refer to one’s net worth. In a way, it relates to the total of the above assets, minus liabilities to creditors and other entities.
If you have legal questions on any of the above, contact our law office today. We offer a free consultation to potential clients who need help with probate and estate planning. We can also answer questions related to living wills, living trusts, joint tenancy, survivorship, and power of attorney.
Choosing the Right Estate Planning Tool
Life can bring unexpected events, which is a primary reason why it is necessary to protect your family’s future. Having an estate plan in place gives you the peace of mind, that your loved ones will not have to deal with the unnecessary burden of figuring out what you would want to do when an unexpected life event or death occurs in the family.
In general, estate planning is concerned with managing one’s estate, specifically how it will be transferred or distributed to your surviving spouse, children, or even grandchildren when you pass away. While there is no one way to manage an estate, the total value of your assets will be a matter of significant attention once you pass away. Here, the legal services of a competent and compassionate probate lawyer in Tacoma can help ensure that your estate planning documents will be beneficial for appointed heirs and beneficiaries.
With the right estate planning tool, you can proactively anticipate possible issues and scenarios, address them before they occur, and minimize the frustration and emotional distress that comes with losing a family member.
Dealing with and Sorting Out Probate Matter in Washington
While you are not legally required to retain a probate attorney, it is highly recommended due to the complexity of the court process. Understandably, many individuals do not have the time to make court appearances, gather documents, and file the paperwork, let alone even have the knowledge and experience to ensure these things are done correctly.
For one, it would help to know that Washington probate law also allows an individual to make payable-on-death or transfer-on-death designations for many assets, including real property and bank account balances. other assets such as an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) need not be probated as well.
To a certain extent, the most common reason for probate is that the decedent died holding real property in his or her own name or has personal property valued at over $100,000.
At Jones Legacy Law, our top-tier Tacoma estate planning attorneys can explain in detail how legal documents related to probate matters are processed. We can also help with matters related to other estate planning documents or areas of law such as bankruptcy and elder law.
Estate Planning Laws and the Process of Preparing a Will
When writing a will, one should keep in mind that if at least one provision of a will is rendered invalid, it would be as if the deceased person did not make a will at all. The intestate probate process can be very complicated, and you would want your loved one to avoid probate and be spared from dealing with intestacy laws after you pass away.
One rule that many people overlook is that there is a very specific way to sign it. Estate planning documents must strictly follow relevant statutes on how the last will should be signed. Usually, the person making a will must sign the paperwork in the presence and hearing of usually two witnesses. The witnesses and testator should be in one room, and all must have witnessed the others as they are signing the document.
If relevant guidelines and laws are not followed, the will you wrote might be invalid. Someone could contest a will based on this. An estate planning lawyer in Tacoma can explain to you how to write a will that will likely not be contested.
The Need for Legal Advice from Tacoma Estate Planning Attorneys
Whether you are drafting a will for yourself or dealing with a deceased loved one, there is a specific legal process under relevant state law that must be followed. There are certain formalities and signing guidelines that you must follow to ensure the validity of the estate planning document you signed. This can vary from state to state
Most of the time, a testator would distribute real and personal property to a would-be surviving spouse, child, or even grandchild. Some people who wish to make a will, however, have unusual preferences and circumstances.
If you are planning to write a will but can foresee that an heir or a beneficiary will likely be contesting it when you die, it is highly recommended to seek legal advice early on. Consult with knowledgeable and well-trained estate planning lawyers in Tacoma, Washington to avoid mistakes related to a will or any estate planning document that you will create.
How a Probate Lawyer in Washington Can Help
Unknown to many, it is possible to challenge your legal right to distribute a next-of-kin’s estate even if you are the executor of a will. You can ask a probate lawyer for advice on where to bring a will so it can be probated and how to proceed if someone questions your legal authority.
Our credible Washington probate attorneys will help you as you clarify your intentions, protect your family, and prepare necessary estate planning documents. We will make it known to all concerned how you wish to deal with matters concerning your health care, personal and business affairs, and even your death.
It is traumatic to lose a loved one. However, there is no need for grieving people to deal with complications or confusion about the assets of the deceased and the court system. They can turn to lawyers who specialize in proving a will is valid and are highly qualified and experienced to assist you in applying for probate of a decedent’s will.
Call us at Jones Legacy Law to find out what steps you can take to plan for the unexpected. At our Tacoma estate planning law firm, we are solution-oriented and service focused. We take care of clients like they were our own friends and family, providing the highest quality legal representation and value. We foster a relationship with our clients that is built on honesty and trust.