Probate court proceedings are only usually necessary if the “decedent” (the deceased person) owned property in his name alone. Under Washington state law, probate is also usually triggered for a probate estate (made up of the property that can’t be transferred to beneficiaries in any other way) worth over $100,000.

The Court Process

If probate is necessary, the named administrator of the will goes to the Superior Court in the county where the decedent lived and files the will with a petition for probate requesting formal appointment as administrator of the estate. It’s best to hire an attorney to help, as he can make sure you’re filing all appropriate paperwork, ensure that the estate is distributed effectively and in accordance with the decedent’s wishes, and assist you with any complications or tax issues that arise during the probate process.

The word “probate” comes originally from the Latin verb “probare,” and means to prove. In probate, the administrator will have to prove several things to the court. The will must be in existence, signed by its maker, and signed and witnessed by two people. At the time of the witnessing of the will, the witnesses also usually sign a sworn statement stating what they have witnessed, which generally acts to “prove” the will. If everything is in order, the court will issue a document known as “letters of administration” to prove the representative’s legal authority to collect and manage estate property.

Next Steps

After officially being named the administrator, you will need to contact all the beneficiaries named in the will and any heirs not named in the will and inform them of your appointment as personal representative of the state. You will need to then take stock of the decedent’s estate by tracking down all information about his assets and debts. You will have to use this information to manage and protect assets while you are working to administer the estate. After paying bills and taxes, you can distribute the decedent’s property to the beneficiaries and close the estate.

Contact an Experienced Probate Attorney

Probate can be a difficult and complicated process fraught with potential minefields. Dan Kellogg has years of experience and can help guide you through the process to ensure that your deceased loved one’s assets are properly distributed and managed. For more information, please contact or call Dan Kellogg at (425) 227-8700 for assistance with your case.