Spokane Probate Lawyer
Your Spokane Probate Attorney takes the mystery out of the probate process. When you are faced with the prospect of probating an estate the first time, the process can be intimidating.
Washington law is well-developed in this area and is codified under Title 11 of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW). It is helpful to have a road map (and guide) in order to understand the overall probate process and related laws.
Often, our clients request us to attend Court and complete the opening probate for them. Others want to go to Court, themselves, but ask that their attorney go with them in order to present pleadings to the judge and be available to answer the judge’s questions. Our Spokane estate probate lawyers work with each of our clients on an individualized basis, customizing our services to meet each client’s individual needs and expressed preferences.
The following is designed to provide an abbreviated overview of the probate process. It is always important that you seek legal representation and advice regarding any particular situation from a qualified Spokane probate lawyer.
The Whipple Law Group’s Qualified Spokane Estate Probate Lawyers Can Help You
- Our Spokane estate probate lawyers offer reliable legal advice for negotiating the probate process
- Your Spokane probate lawyer will help you draft an Opening of Probate Letter
- We will also help with the closing of the probate, leaving no stone unturned
- Get the help you need from the probate professionals at The Whipple Law Group
Our Approach To Probate Law
At the Whipple Law Group, we take our probate representation responsibilities seriously. We consider the request to assist in the settling of a loved one’s estate to be a supreme honor.
We approach each estate individually, with competence and empathy. It is the responsibility of your Whipple Law Group Spokane probate attorney to effectively advise our clients as they negotiate the probate process and to do so with compassion and an understanding that each family dynamic is unique requiring individual solutions.
Our experience allows us to help our clients avoid mistakes and complete the process more efficiently. There are often opportunities by which to conserve the resources of the estate which we present to our clients.
Our Spokane probate lawyers also bring to our representation the understanding that emotions often ride high during these difficult times. Losing a loved one effects different people in different ways.
At the Whipple Law Group, your assigned Spokane probate lawyer strives, from the beginning of our representation, to foster pathways of communication, between family members, designed to avoid wasteful argument and to facilitate the healthful closure that the probate process can offer. At the same time, we stand ready to protect, equally, the interests of all interested parties, as required by the law.
Last Will –
If a Will is in existence, it must be filed with the Court within 30 days of the passing of the decedent. (RCW 11.20.010). It is not necessary to open probate when filing a Will.
If no Will is in existence or located, then the decedent is considered to have died “intestate.” In that case, Washington law determines if you may be appointed as executor (personal representative) for the estate and how any assets will be distributed.
Jurisdiction is the term used to describe the authority of a particular court to act on a matter. In terms of probate, Washington law provides various avenues in which a particular probate may be started. Such factors as where the decedent lived or owned property are considered. Your Whipple Law Group probate attorney assists our clients in deciding which forum is the most appropriate.
The opening of probate is initiated when an interested party petitions the court for appointment as “Personal Representative,” for estates where a Will has been filed, or “Administrator,” where there is no Will present.
In Washington, the terms Personal Representative and Administrator replace the terms “Executor” or “Executrix,” used elsewhere.
Your Spokane probate lawyer from The Whipple Law Group will help you draft the Petition for Opening Probate and Appointment making sure you include all the information necessary for the Court to take action and the process move smoothly. In addition, you Spokane probate attorney will provide you with the Oath of Personal Representative and Letters of Appointment (or Administration for intestate estates) that you will need to open the probate.
After Opening Probate, What’s Next?
Once probate is opened and the necessary “Letters” obtained, it is time to go to work.
Remember, once the Personal Representative is appointed, that person is under many legal obligations to the court and all interested parties regarding their conduct and the probate of the estate. As the probate attorney for the Estate or the Personal Representative, it is our job to inform the Personal Representative of these obligations and assist them in carrying these out correctly.
Required Notices –
At the Whipple Law Group, your Spokane probate attorney will prepare the required legal notices that must be sent out announcing the opening of probate. In addition to the heirs and beneficiaries, different state agencies are provided notice. We also help our clients contact the IRS, obtain an EIN number and correctly open the estate bank account.
Estate Inventory –
One of the critical duties, of the Personal Representative, is to complete an estate inventory. This must be accomplished soon after probate is opened. At the Whipple Law Group, we lend our experience to our clients in order for them to locate assets and place them under the legal control of the estate. No distributions of money or objects should occur until the inventory is completed.
Probate versus Non-Probate Property
It is important for the Personal representative to distinguish between property that is subject to probate and property that transfers outside of probate. Your Whipple Law Group Spokane probate lawyer helps our clients locate and assign estate property to one or the other of these categories. The Personal Representative must inventory all property, whether or not it is subject to probate.
Creditors’ Claims –
It is the legal responsibility of the Personal Representative to treat every person with an interest in the estate equally- the Personal Represent cannot play favorites. Potential creditors are interested parties. These are persons or companies that were owed money by the decedent before that person’s death.
If claims against the estate are not presented properly, an estate creditor may lose their right to collect. Your Whipple Law Group Spokane probate lawyer assists the Personal Representing in drafting the required notice to creditors, tracking responses and determining whether they were legally presented.
In cases where claims are not presented properly, we provide advice to the Personal Representative on how to deny the claim for the benefit of the estate.
Distribution of Estate Assets –
Distribution refers to the transfer of assets to heirs and beneficiaries. Washington law determines when and in what order distribution occurs. It is critical that the Personal Representative adhere to the requirements of the law. Your assigned Whipple Law Group Spokane probate lawyer provides specific guidance in this respect.
Real Estate Transactions
Probate often involves the transfer of real property, such as, homes, commercial properties and land. The Whipple Law Group’s experience in land use matters allows us to assist our clients in the arranging for legal real estate transfers. We assist clients in establishing ownership, clearing and retitling of deeds, and property title re conveyances.
We help our clients to negotiate the settling of mortgage interests while facilitate the closing and recording of deed documents. It is important that the Personal Representative complete these transactions in a legal and economical manner. Our knowledgeable Whipple Law Group estate probate lawyers stand ready to assist you in these matters.
Personal Representatives are responsible to the court any tax liabilities be paid out of estate assets. While our firm does not provide specific legal advice, regarding taxes, we do advise our clients to make initial contact with the IRS and a certified public accountant. Your Whipple Law Group probate attorney stands ready, at all phases of the probate process, to assist these professionals in completing their duties.
TEDRA is an acronym that stands for the Washington Law, Trust and Estate Dispute Resolution Act. This law allows beneficiaries of an estate to join together in an agreement regarding the distribution of estate assets. This is often a useful vehicle in settling disputes and arriving at amicable agreements without involving costly litigation The Whipple Law Group has been successful in facilitating such agreements to the benefit of all the parties. We assist in negotiation and discussion, where appropriate, and are available to draft the final document memorializing the agreement for filing with the court.
Your Whipple Law Group Spokane probate attorney will advise you whether the TEDRA process would be beneficial in your case.
When the Personal Representative has finished completing the probate duties, your Spokane probate attorney assists in you in preparing a final report for the court and arrange for the closing of the probate. It is important that the probate is closed properly so that the Personal Representative receives court approval for the work completed and is relieved of the responsibilities at the end of probate process.
Please call the Whipple Law Group today to discuss how an experienced Spokane probate lawyer can best assist you in completing the probate process efficiently and diligently to your satisfaction.