Frequently Asked Questions

What is probate?

Probate is the name of the court process that grants someone (such as the Personal Representative identified in a Will) authority to transfer title to property owned by the deceased to his or her beneficiaries, after paying all the debts and taxes that the estate owes.  If there is a Will, the Court will determine whether it is valid and confirm that the person identified in the Will can serve as the Personal Representative (also called an executor).

If there is no valid Will, the Court will appoint a Personal Representative according to a prioritized list of individuals identified by Washington state law, RCW 11.28.120The Personal Representative will distribute the deceased person’s property in specific shares and to recipients within the deceased’s family who are also identified by state law, RCW 11.04.015.

Why is probate so expensive?

The probate process in Washington is actually streamlined and can be inexpensive.  Probate can be complicated by a number of issues, including 1) challenges to a Will’s validity, 2) challenges by beneficiaries to a Will’s terms, 3) property located in other states, 4) property that cannot be located, but is believed to exist, 5) beneficiaries not listed in the Will who claim a portion of the estate, 6) claims made against the estate by creditors, among other things.

Are you unsure whether you should pay certain bills or whether you need to file a probate?  Are you concerned about a probate that has been pending?  Are you wondering if what you have been told by a bank, family, or friend is correct?  Are you wondering about your rights to an inheritance?  You may have heard conflicting advice and are confused.  Contact Lakeview Law for a consultation.

My grandfather died over a year ago.  My brother is living in my grandfather’s house.  It doesn’t seem fair that my brother gets his house.  I have a sister as well and we were all close to my grandfather.

This is a common scenario and can be complicated.  Many people continue to live in a deceased person’s house, even though they might not have a legal claim to the property.  However, this requires that you determine if a probate action has been started--you can search for cases filed in the state of Washington (see the Resources page).  You may also need to locate your grandfather’s Will if a probate action has not been commenced.  You should contact an attorney, provide all of the facts, and ask for advice on how to proceed.

This page is under construction; check back for additional information.

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Carrie M. Kovacevich, Attorney

Phone:  (206) 367-6962