A. Alene Anderson Lawyer Seattle

Probate and Informal Proceedings

It is always a profound event when some important in your life dies. Family and/or friends are often unfamiliar with what should happen with the remaining estate when the person who has died (“decedent”) left a Will as well as when the decedent dies intestate (does not leave a Will). The options available for transferring the estate assets to the heirs varies, depending on any given situation as well as the size of the estate, whether the estate is solvent (assets exceed debts),whether the decedent was married or was a registered domestic partner, and how assets are titled.

Seattle Lawyer A. Alene Anderson
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A decedent’s estate includes "probate" assets, "nonprobate" assets, or a mixture of both. Probate assets "pass through" either the decedent’s Will or a Revocable Living Will (i.e. the Will controls its disposition). When there is no Will, disposition of the decedent’s probate assets is controlled by descent and distribution statutes. "Nonprobate" assets are transferred upon death to one or more persons according to a written instrument or contractual arrangement instead of a person’s Will. Non-probate assets may include life insurance proceeds, annuities and IRAs payable directly to third parties after the owner’s death are common nonprobate assets.

Probate (Formal Proceedings)

Probate is a legal procedure for settling the affairs of a person who has died (the "decedent") and for transferring the decedent's probate assets to the rightful beneficiaries. Washington’s court-supervised process is one of the least costly and most efficient probate systems in the country and includes a procedure for limiting the time in which creditors may file claims against the estate in order to collect on debts that the decedent owed at the time of his or her death. In probate proceedings an administrator is appointed by the Court and the decedent’s probate assets are collected and protected; estate beneficiaries and creditors are identified; debts, taxes, expenses, and valid claims are paid; and the estate property is properly distributed.

Informal Proceedings

If a decedent dies with very little property, or made alternative arrangements for the nonprobate transfer of most assets, formal probate proceedings may not be necessary. For example, if a decedent owned no real estate and total probate assets are below the amount indicated by state law, the estate probate assets may be transferred by a small estate affidavit procedure.

If a decedent left a Will and probate is not necessary for one or more of the reasons identified in the preceding paragraph, all that is required by law is that the decedent's Will be filed with the Superior Court of the county in which the decedent was residing at the time of his or her death. The court will charge a small filing fee.

I am available to answer any questions you may have regarding the estate and to provide legal assistance with probate of the decedent’s estate.