Tag Archive for probate

What’s the Difference Between Probate and Estate Planning Attorneys?

Knowing the differences between probate and estate planning attorney can help you choose the right one for your needs.

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between attorneys who handle probate versus those who provides estate planning? Simply stated, a probate attorney deals with what happens after a person dies. An estate planning attorney provides legal advice and guidance while a person is still alive. Both probate and estate planning attorneys are state licensed.

Visit the Washington State Bar Association to make sure the attorney you want to hire is licensed in Washington state.

Probate

A probate attorney files your will with the court and appoints an executor of your estate. After your death, a probate attorney also pays bills, files taxes, obtains appraisals of your property and distributes assets and property to your heirs. He can also make decisions in regards to your retirement plan.

This lawyer also files a final accounting of your estate and settles any disputes. Some probate attorneys handle legal matters and represent the beneficiary of an estate. Click here to view our referral list of probate attorneys in Washington state.

Related: Click here to read our blog post, 5 Things to Know About Probate in Washington State


Estate Planning

An estate planning attorney helps you plan what happens after your death. While you can create your own will and health care directives, some people prefer to hire an estate planning attorney to write these documents.

Estate planning attorneys also help set up your estate so your assets are distributed the way you want upon your death. This might involve setting up trusts and joint accounts to avoid estate taxes. An estate attorney also helps create non-probate assets so you control how everything will be distributed. This allows the court to more quickly distribute your assets, since non-probate assets are not controlled by the court, according to ElderLawAnswers, a law firm specializing in elder law.

Your estate planning attorney can also set up the proper paperwork to create joint accounts, bank and life insurance accounts with beneficiaries, and property put in a trust.

Finding an estate planning attorney familiar with Washington state law is important to avoid having your plan deemed invalid by the court, says The Balance. Click here to view our referral list of estate planning attorneys in Washington state.

5 Things to Know About Probate in Washington State

Learn all about probate in Washington state.

Have you heard the term “probate?” Do you know about probate in Washington state?

Probate is the official term for settling an estate after a person dies. According to Dickson Frohlich, a Washington state law firm, probate is the process of administering an estate and making distributions to family members based on the provisions of a will. Probate also involves collecting assets and settling debts.

Probate helps prevent fraud once a person dies since it stops any further action from being taken until a judge decides if the will is valid. Sometimes people file for probate because of issues related to the decedent’s personal property..

Is There A Will?

If the decedent left a will, the executor of the will is responsible for filing probate, if needed. The executor of an estate or the attorney who represents the estate starts the probate process. After this person files proper documents, the probate court then validates the decedent’s will and allows the executor or attorney to distribute the estate, pay all final bills and take care of any taxes due.

What Happens if No Will?

If the decedent did not leave a will, the state will choose someone to administer the estate. Usually, a surviving spouse or a child of adult age is appointed by the court. This person then follows the judge’s instructions as to how the deceased’s property is handled.

Required or Not in Washington State?

Probate in Washington state is not required, says the Public Law Library of King County’s website. Probate isn’t even required in situations where the decedent does not have a will in Washington state.

So why file probate in Washington state? PLLKC says the two most common reasons for probate are because the decedent’s personal properly is valued at more than $100,000 or the person has real property titled in their name. For estates of $100,000 or less, PLLKC says you may be able to file a Small Estate Affidavit instead of a probate. We offer an instant download Small Estate Affidavit with all of the forms you need to complete and file with the court.

 Other Reasons to File Probate

If you need to access a safe deposit box, pay debts, distribute assets or handle a lawsuit in the defendant’s name, you need to probate, says PLLKC. We offer an instant download of a do-it-yourself Probate Kit that helps you fill in the necessary paperwork and file it with the court to start the probate process. Choose a Probate Kit with Will or a Probate Kit Without a Will.

 Ways to Avoid Probate

If you can avoid probate, NerdWallet says to do so, since probate can be slow, costly and is a matter of public record. Establishing a living trust is one option to avoid probate. Another way to avoid probate when it comes to property is to designate your spouse or whomever you want to become a joint owner. In some states, small estates can avoid probate if the estate falls under the probate estate limits.

This blog post is not offered as specific advice, which may only be provided by an attorney based upon each individual situation. To find an attorney, click here to visit our attorney referral page