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A General Guide

Our Spokane law firm has helped countless clients with Washington probate matters. One result is that we truly understand that probate can grow complex and involves stress and anxiety. We don't like when clients are confused or worried. So, we have provided below some basic probate information to help provide clarity and ease.

Probate is a legal process that is supervised by a court. It essentially gives a person the legal authority to settle a deceased person's affairs. This "winding up" includes many elements. Three of the more important include:

  1. Gathering a deceased person's assets.
  2. Paying that person's debts and taxes.
  3. Transferring assets to the people who've inherited from the decedent.

A difficulty in understanding probate often lies with the legal terms involved. Common legal words/phrases associated with probate include:

  • Executor: This is the person that goes to court and starts the probate process. An executor will be named in a decedent's will.
  • Administrator: If there is no will, the court appoints an administrator. The administrator does the same job as an executor.
  • Personal Representative: This term is the title given to either an executor or an administrator. The title is often abbreviated "PR." The PR collects and inventories assets, pays debts and taxes, and distributes property as directed by a will.
  • Letters Testamentary: This is the document issued by the probate court that gives proof of a PR's legal authority to manage estate property.
  • Intestate Succession Laws: If a person dies without a will, a probate court uses these laws to determine who inherits from a deceased person's estate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Over the years, our helpful probate attorneys have fielded many of the same probate related questions from clients. Some of the most frequently asked questions include:

  • How much will it cost to talk to a lawyer? Lawyers can definitely assist in helping personal representatives with probate. Attorneys generally charge on an hourly basis for probate matters. Our firm will talk to you for one-half hour for free to see if we can help you.
  • Do I always have to go through the probate process? No, there are various other methods to transfer assets depending on the type of property owned and arrangements made prior to death.
  • How long does probate take? Probate usually takes six months to one year in Washington. Matters can take longer if there are estate disputes or complicated assets/debts.
  • Can anyone act as administrator? The person must be of legal age and not have been convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors.
  • I am named as executor in the will so why do I have to go to court? A will only nominates you as an executor. The court has to appoint you and will then issue letters testamentary indicating your authority to act.
  • When my spouse dies am I responsible to pay his/her debts? In some cases you may be, but in other cases we could advise you on circumstances where you don't have to pay their debts nor your debts.
  • How do I get debts paid? Generally, you have to gather their assets and give notice to potential creditors to see what claims are filed. There is a process for paying and a timeline for cutting off creditors.
  • Can I make it through the probate process without the help of an attorney? Most attorneys will work with you and the more you can do on your own the less the attorneys need to do. Many attorneys are skilled at guiding you so you can do as much work as you are comfortable doing to avoid incurring additional legal fees.
  • I have a power of attorney, why can't I settle things without court? Powers of attorney expire on the death of the principal.
  • If a decedent created a trust prior to death, do I still: (a) have to worry about probate; and, (b) need help from an attorney? Yes to both (a) and (b). If a decedent created a trust, there still may be probate issues that have to be resolved. Further, if a trust was created, an attorney might be necessary in allocating trust assets between a survivor's trust and a decedent's trust and in administrating and distributing the assets from the trust.

How Perednia Law Can Assist

Committed Guidance, Dedicated Service

While our firm is here to provide you with sound legal advice and representation for probate issues, our level of service depends upon you. We can stand to the side and simply provide commited guidance as to what needs to get accomplished and how to do so. Or, we can work more directly and provide dedicated service entirely on your behalf. 

No matter the level of our service, know that we will provide it with care and attention. Please contact us now if you have any probate questions. Our attorneys are skilled and experienced in everything probate and they're here to help.


Contact Us

Serving Spokane County and Eastern Washington

Perednia PS is a Spokane law firm that offers premier legal services to Spokane County and other Washington counties east of the Cascade Mountains.

Please note our address below. While we are located on Indiana Avenue, the main door to our office is on the side street Atlantic Street. Parking is found on Atlantic.

Perednia Law

28 W Indiana Ave, Suite E, Spokane, WA 99205

Phone: (509) 624-1369