Probate is the legal process through which property and other assets pass from you to your beneficiaries after you die. If you do not have a Will, an intestate probate would be initiated by one of your heirs. If you do have a Will, a testate probate would be initiated by the person identified in your Will as your personal representative or Executor/Executrix.
Probate proceedings are intended to provide a mechanism for the orderly transfer of a decedent's property while protecting those who might have an interest in the property, including heirs, beneficiaries, creditors, and taxing authorities. The probate process is necessary to: collect and protect the decedent's property; identify the beneficiaries, estate creditors, and any other individuals or entities that may be entitled to assets of the estate or have claims against the estate; pay all debts, expenses, valid claims, and taxes; and, to distribute the property of the estate properly. Is probate necessary?
Probate proceedings are not necessary for all estates. Various factors, including the value, nature, and titling of assets, will determine whether or not probate is required and what type of probate proceeding is necessary. An individual in possession of a decedent's will must either file the Will with the appropriate court or deliver the Will to the decedent's personal representative or attorney within 30 days of being notified of the death. How long does the probate process take?
In the State of Washington, a probate takes a minimum of four months from the date of publication of the Notice to Creditors before an estate can be closed.This is the time required by law to allow any possible creditors to make claims to the estate.Once the four months has passed, if there are no other pending issues, an estate can be distributed to the heirs and the court file closed. Taxes Estates may be subject to federal and state taxes on income and the estate, depending on the type and value of assets includible in the decedent's "gross estate." The gross estate generally includes both probate and non-probate assets; many people don't realize that avoiding probate will not affect whether or not income or estate taxes will be due. Fees and Costs Probate costs can vary substantially depending on factors such as the type of assets, claims by creditors, and the need to file tax returns. Also, the personal representative and the estate's lawyer or other service providers are entitled to reasonable compensation for their services. Revocable living trusts may provide an alternative to probate. Any transfer outside of probate should be used cautiously since the mere transfer of ownership into joint names may cause gift-tax consequences or there may be estate tax complications upon the death of one of the owners.
Unclaimed property can be found through the following Washington State website:
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