Probate: Why Probate if I have a Will?

Clients frequently ask: “Why Probate in Washington if I have a Will? Doesn’t a Will avoid the process of Probate?”

Probate

We hear this question frequently.  A will directs who receives your estate after your death, and appoints the person who will act as your Executor to handle the estate. However, a Will does not avoid Probate.

If you have an estate with titled assets, those assets need to be transferred to your heirs. Your Executor does not have the personal authority to do so unless and until he/she is appointed by the court to do so. That is the initial process of probate, giving the Executor the legal authority to transfer assets.

There are some exceptions to the process of Probate, where an estate can be transferred without it. This could include a Community Property Agreement, a Declaration of Small Estate, or Revocable Living Trust.

If someone close to you has died, the surviving spouse or a close relative should contact a lawyer. A lawyer can provide advice, determine if probate is required and explain any necessary procedures. Call us at 425-255-4542 to talk to one of our estate planning and probate attorneys.