In previous blog posts, we have covered what happens when a loved one wants to challenge an estate, and some of the reasons that they may have for contesting a will or trust. In this post, we want to provide you with an overview of the probate process, so that you understand how it works, and what it might mean for your case.
What is subject to probate?
Washington probate laws apply to very specific situations. In general, any real property that an individual owns, such as a house or land, or any personal property worth more than $100,000 must go through probate before it will be distributed.
In most circumstances, the individual will have a will or trust that clearly states who should receive this property after he or she passes away. The probate process ensures that this property is transferred to the individual that is named in these documents. It really is just the formal process of moving property from the deceased to the beneficiary. While this seems straightforward, it can be a very time consuming and frustrating process for everyone involved.
Who carries out the estate?
The personal representative is responsible for ensuring that the estate is administered according to the loved one’s final wishes. This person is generally named in the will, but, if not, he or she will be selected by the courts to carry things out accordingly.
This person is responsible for wrapping up all of the outstanding matters connected to the estate. This includes paying bills, gathering assets and then transferring the leftover assets and property to the individuals named in the will or other estate planning documents.
When can challenges arise?
At any point in the process, individuals who have an interest in the proceedings may contest what is happening. If a challenge is issued, it will significantly increase the amount of time it will take to probate the estate. If the matter becomes extremely contentious and it is likely that it will lead to a lawsuit, it can take years before all of the property is distributed.
While this may seem complicated, know that the advice and guidance of an experienced attorney can make things much easier for you at this time. Whether you are representing the estate that is being challenged, an experienced probate and estate litigation attorney will be able to analyze your case and explain what you need to do to protect your interests.