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Why Do I Need a Probate Lawyer? | Tacoma Probate Law Firm

February 16th, 2017 Estate Planning

When a loved one passes away, there are likely millions of things going through your head. Finding an experienced and knowledgeable probate lawyer is probably not the top priority for many families. After time to grieve and heal, it’s important to hire legal counsel to help you through the probate process.

A woman signing paperwork on a table

You may be asking: what exactly is probate? In some circumstances, it may become necessary for courts to oversee the distribution of the deceased persons’ assets and properties. Probate is the formal legal process where debts are settled and assets are appropriately passed on to beneficiaries or heirs. Probate offers a court-supervised solution to any estate disagreements or disputes.

The state of Washington does not require a probate proceeding to be filed following death, regardless of whether the deceased person died with or without a will. If a person dies with a valid will, they are said to have died testate and is referred to as a testator. If they died without a will, the person is considered to have died intestate.

How does the probate process work?

Following the passing of a loved one, the person named the executor or personal representative in the will may hire a probate lawyer to start the probate process. Typically, the executor is the surviving spouse or an adult child. The length of probate process can vary depending on the complexity of the estate or any complications that arise.

When do I need a probate lawyer?

We often receive questions for our clients if it’s better to avoid probate. While filing probate is not required in Washington State, there are certain situations where it can be beneficial. We recommend filing for probate if the deceased left personal property worth more than $100,000, or if they individually own any real property that cannot be transferred by other means. You will likely want to file probate if you want to dispute the will or other matter regarding the estate.

Other reasons for probate include but not limited to:

  • Determining the validity of the will
  • Collecting debts owed to the deceased person
  • Paying taxes and other debts of the deceased person
  • Identifying all heirs and other relatives

Why do I need a probate lawyer?

A probate lawyer has a variety of important responsibilities, including being in charge of the filing of the last testament or will of a deceased person. Hiring a probate lawyer can help you feel better knowing that a trusted legal professional is handling all the court-related tasks, such as preparing and filing important paperwork.

The probate process can be a complex and lengthy for people who have not prepared for it. If you choose to file for probate, it’s likely you’ll need legal assistance with estate or tax issues that may arise. Contact us today at Law Offices of David Smith for a complimentary consultation. Our probate lawyers will review your unique situation and provide you guidance on the best course of action.