The death of a loved one is hardest on the people closest to them. Whether expected or unexpected the blow to the human heart is incalculable, and everyone deserves a chance to reflect and grieve in their own way. This can be complicated, however, if the departed had a large estate when they died. The division and distribution of the estate must at some point be dealt with. The particulars of Seattle Probate Law will need to be confronted and the wishes of the deceased appropriately honored.
The Best Scenario
The existence of a clear, sound, and legal will is best for all concerned. If your departed loved one did proper estate planning and set down exactly who was to get what, then the role of the executor is straightforward.
Even in this instance the will can be contested. If someone did not get what they were promised, there may be charges of coercion, forgery, and so forth. These matters can usually be dealt with simply, as long as there is no truth to the claims. A probate lawyer can help guide your family through the challenge and secure an outcome that keeps the wishes of the dead intact.
When There Is No Will
If your loved one has died without leaving a will, it will create a range of problems. The estate will be administered by a probate court, which essentially puts a judge in charge of dividing the estate rather than the deceased. It can be difficult to accept this, but the law in Washington state is quite clear on the matter.
Even if the estate ends up in probate court, there are limits as to what the court can control. The estate will be divided into probate and non-probate assets, the latter of which will be left in the hands of family members. Non-probate assets are as follows:
-Accounts established between the decedent and another individual which contain a “right of survivorship” clause. A joint bank account falls into this category.
-Property that is owned in “joint tenancy” (with rights of survivorship).
-Life insurance policies with a designated beneficiary clause that states directly who is to receive the proceeds.
– Every other asset controlled by a designated beneficiary. This can include an investment account, real estate, or stake in a business.
In other words, if legal documents exist that name specific individuals as co-owners or beneficiaries of an asset, then they cannot be touched by a probate court.
How a Probate Lawyer Can Help
It is a difficult time for you and your family. You should be focused on supporting each other and you can do without the strain of dealing with a probate court. Hiring an experienced probate lawyer can help relieve some of this pressure. It can provide you with the legal insight and guidance you need to get through the most difficult issues to be faced. Your lawyer will always look out for your interests and protect you to the full extent of the law.