Lancaster Law Office helps families wind up the affairs of a loved one who has died; we bring expertise and compassion to this difficult task.
After death, a person’s Will becomes effective. The decedent's wishes for disposal of her remains, as expressed in her Funeral Instructions, are carried out. The Will and associated documents guide a personal representative (executor) in paying the deceased person’s bills, settling any disputes, accounting to the Internal Revenue Service, and distributing the deceased person’s property in the manner required by the Will. If the decedent has no Will, the default provisions of Washington law govern (the intestacy statute).
If probate is necessary, we file initial probate pleadings, and assist the personal representative in getting appointed by the court. We publish notice to creditors, commencing the process of terminating claims against the deceased person. We work with the personal representative to settle any disputes involving the deceased person, to file his or her final tax returns, and to make asset distributions. In this process, disputes may be settled by court hearing or by TEDRA proceedings, which are an alternative to court process. Finally, we help the personal representative close the probate case.
A personal representative's duties are governed by statute. Brad has combined core requirements with some practical advice in his Instructions to Personal Representatives.
The following are questions in probate law about which you may wish to learn more. My answers to these inquiries summarize their topics, and do not aim to provide exhaustive knowledge, but rather an introduction to the topic. Please read the statutes referenced for more complete details.
- What is a decedent?
- What are funeral instructions?
- When do an attorney-in-fact's powers terminate?
- What should I do with a decedent's Will?
- What is probate?
- What is a trust?
- What is a Personal Representative?
- What is an executor?
- What is a fiduciary?
- Are registered domestic partners treated the same as spouses in probate?
- What is an heir?
- What are legatees?
- What inheritance rights do financial abusers of decedents have?
- What is an inventory?
- How do probate assets differ from non-probate assets?
- What is a "super-Will"?
- When is a Will valid?
- What happens if the decedent's Will is lost or destroyed?
- What is a codicil?
- What happens if I have no Will when I die?
- What is a tangible personal property gift list?
- What is taking by representation?
- How does one revoke a Will?
- What is escheat?
- What is the difference between community property and separate property?
- What happens if I married or adopted after I made my Will?
- What happens to my property if I have no heirs or legatees?
- What does my spouse get if I divorce after making a Will?
- What happens if my estate lacks funds to pay my bills when I die?
- What court supervises probate?
- What notice is required for probate or trust hearings?
- Do I need an attorney to probate an estate?
- How do a non-intervention probate and a full administration probate differ?
- What happens when a person believes a decedent's Will is not valid?
- What are Letters Testamentary and Letters of Administration?
- What are non-intervention powers?
- How do creditors get paid by a probated estate?
- How do creditors get paid by an estate that is not probated?
- Will my estate owe estate taxes?
- Are gifts I make under my Will taxable income to my beneficiaries?
- How does one distribute gifts from an estate to minors?
- What powers do Personal Representatives have?
- When can a Personal Representative be replaced?
- Can I get information about the estate from the Personal Representative?
- Can we settle probate or trust disputes without a court hearing?
- Can my family get money from my estate after I die?
- How does one sell real estate in a probate?
- How do small estates (<$100,000) get settled?
- What happens if the decedent had a business partner?
- What happens if the decedent had ongoing contracts?
- What happens if the decedent owned real property outside Washington?
- What happens if an out-of-state decedent owned real property in Washington?
- What social security monies are owed to a decedent?
- Can part of the estate property be distributed before probate is completed?
- What reports must a Personal Representative make and to whom?
- What happens to property of heirs or legatees who cannot be found?
- How does one close probate?
- Can a probate, once closed, be re-opened?