During the estate planning process, you may wonder whether your survivors will have to endure probate after you are gone. At Riach Gese Jacobs, we understand your concern about a lengthy legal proceeding that may prevent your heirs from receiving their bequests in a timely fashion or even give rise to litigation. Fortunately, the state of Washington has taken steps to simplify the process, meaning that probate may not be necessary to the administration of your estate.
However, to take advantage of the simplified process, you have to meet certain conditions. Perhaps most significant, your estate cannot contain any real property, which includes a residence, commercial building or vacant lot. Additionally, the total value of your estate must be less than $100,000.
Even if these conditions do not apply to your situation, there are things you can do to reduce the amount of property subject to probate as part of your estate. One of the most common ways to do this is to place the property into a revocable living trust.
According to FindLaw, this transfers ownership of the property to a trustee so that it is no longer part of the estate. However, while you are alive, the trustee must use the property for your benefit and distribute it according to your instructions after your death. If desired, you can revoke a living trust and retake possession of the property, although this means it will be subject to probate after you die.
Probate litigation may not be necessary if you can avoid the process altogether. More information is available on our website.