What can a probate attorney help me with?


Losing a friend or family member is challenging, and those left behind often have to manage a great deal of tasks as they move through the grieving process. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure what to do next. Factor in family strife and conflicting views on how to move forward and it’s no wonder why losing a loved one is one of the most stressful things anyone can experience.

Very often, finding a great probate attorney can help the process move forward more smoothly. Your legal representative will  help with any probate matters you face, ranging from making sure all of the paperwork is in place to dealing with unexpected challenges that might arise.

What is probate?

Probate is the legal process of transferring assets from a deceased individual to his or her beneficiaries. Each law has a specific set of rules that address how probate matters move forward, and following those laws is critical to success.

In Washington, not all estates need to go through the probate process. Some of the reasons an estate would be a good fit for probate include:

  • The decedent owned property only in their own name, such as a home or vehicle
  • The estate is estimated at higher than $100,000 in value
  • The deceased had the right to receive property at the time of death

If you are unsure whether probate is the right course of action, reach out to a skilled estate attorney to learn more.

What can an attorney do to help the probate process move forward?

Your attorney begins by sitting down with you to discuss the specifics of your case. You’ll share the details of the estate, whether there is a will in place, what the surviving loved ones hope to achieve through probate, and more. This is a great chance to ask questions or express concerns about the process and what to expect.

The probate process in Washington is relatively straightforward, but there are still numerous rules that must be closely followed. Failure to understand those rules is no defense if a serious error is made, which is why many families entrust the process to a skilled estate attorney.

A benefit of working with an attorney, however, is the ability to have a skilled professional handle all of the paperwork required during the probate process. Washington probate attorneys do not make more money based on the size of the estate, so the final investment is often far less than in states where attorneys charge based on the value of the estate.

Your probate attorney can also assist if there is any conflict between parties in regard to who will inherit what. This happens more often than you might think, and even among loving, close family members. Having an experienced attorney to turn to can help loved ones resolve matters outside of court. If that resolution is not possible, your attorney will work on your behalf to present a clear and compelling argument as to why you should receive assets as part of the probate process.

How long does the probate process take?

This is a simple question with a complex answer. Some probate cases are relatively simple, and move forward quickly. Others are more complicated, especially if the decedent had significant debts or complex tax obligations. Of course, if anyone steps up to challenge the will or make a claim on the estate, that can certainly complicate and prolong the probate process.

Here again, your probate attorney will handle much of the paperwork and organization needed to resolve these issues. You’ll be kept in the loop when it comes to how the process is moving forward and the anticipated timeline for closing the matter. If you have questions along the way, never hesitate to reach out to your legal team. Helping families understand the probate process and the likely results is part of your attorney’s job, and they work hard to assist families in one of the most difficult times of life.

When is the right time to begin working with a probate attorney?

If you anticipate that your loved one’s estate will need to go through the probate process, commenting with an attorney should happen as soon as possible. This isn’t always an easy task, and many friends and family members need time to process their loss and begin moving through a healthy grieving process.

Try to reach out to an attorney in the days following your loss. Scheduling an initial consultation is a great place to begin, and will provide some insight into how to move forward. Experienced attorneys can  help with any probate matters you face, and taking a proactive approach is usually the best course of action.

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