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Probate & Trust Administration

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Probate & Trust Administration

Legal issues and obligations triggered upon a person’s death can seem confusing and overwhelming. You’ve just lost a loved one and having to deal with a reading of the will, probate and estate distribution issues – on top of everything else – can be too much to bear. Although these legal issues are important and must be addressed, we will encourage you to first take care of yourself and your family before jumping into the logistics of probating a will in Tacoma, Gig Harbor or elsewhere in Western Washington. When you are emotionally ready to proceed, we will work with you (whether as a trustee, executor or beneficiary) to simplify the process and bring about the expedient administration of estates and trusts, no matter their size or location. We at the Narrows Law Group go to great lengths to avoid being pushy or intimidating. You will know when you are ready to tackle the legal issues and we will be there to help as a top probate lawyer in Tacoma. We offer full-service representation to assist with all areas of distribution relating to estates, trusts, wills and probate in Pierce County, Tacoma and surrounding areas.

We advise clients with regard to the following specific matters:

  • Probate procedures
    • Opening probate with the court and appointing an executor
    • Obtaining Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration
  • Valuing assets and preparing inventories
  • Properly notify creditors
  • Sell and distribute assets
  • Creditor claims
  • Small estate affidavits
  • Trust administration
  • Obligations and rights under trusts
  • Absentee Estates
  • Special Needs Trusts
  • Estate Mediation
  • Income and estate tax matters

Oftentimes, people are overwhelmed by the probate process and/or don’t believe that anything needs to be done after someone dies. In most situations, this is not the case and there are very important legal matters that need to be handled soon after death so that more problems are not created in the future. If you’re concerned about what needs to be done after someone dies, please contact our office to discuss. It may be as easy as a phone call, but our attorneys will tell you what you need to do and when it is time to hire a probate attorney.

We genuinely care about our clients and pride ourselves on a commonsense approach to probate in Tacoma (and surrounding areas) and the ability to simplify the process for our clients. Annie Arbenz has been repeatedly recognized as a top probate attorney in Tacoma, top Gig Harbor probate attorney and top Puyallup probate lawyer.

frequently asked questions

Probate F.A.Q.

Probate is weird. Most people don’t even know what it is. And it’s often something you only have to do once, maybe twice, in your lifetime. We work with lots of executors every year to help navigate this weird process and have identified several questions that our clients frequently asked. Here are our short and sweet answers to these questions.

What is probate?

The easiest way to understand probate is like this: it is the legal process to get assets out of a dead person’s name and into the names of the beneficiaries of the estate. The court is necessarily involved because the court appoints an executor of the estate to be the legal representative for the deceased person.

Is probate required?

State law does require probate just because someone has died but it is likely that an estate with more than $100,000 and/or real estate will have to go through probate to be distributed to the beneficiaries of the estate.

Why do I have to go to court if a Will appoints me as Executor?

Technically speaking, the Will simply nominates an executor it does not appoint an executor. The court appoints the executor after a quick background check and consideration of the Will and any other relevant circumstances.

I thought a Will meant you didn’t have to go through probate?

This is a common misconception and is not true. The good news is that a Will typically makes probate a lot easier.

Is probate expensive?

It varies. A simple probate typically costs about $3,500 to get done, but it can be a lot more or a lot less than this. The variables that make it more expensive include: if there isn’t a Will, if the family doesn’t get along, or if the deceased person’s property is disorganized.

Are inheritances taxed?

In Washington State, inheritances are tax-free to the beneficiaries. If the total value of an estate is over $2,193,000, the estate may have to pay an estate tax to the state of Washington before making distributions to the beneficiaries.

I’m the Executor . . . is there a timeline during which I should be doing something?

There is a state law that requires a Will to be filed with the court within a certain number of days after a person’s death, but – practically speaking – this is something that doesn’t usually happen that quickly and that is usually OK. We recommend you begin the probate process within a month, or so, of someone’s death.

I paid for the memorial – can I be reimbursed?

Absolutely! Reasonable expenses related to a memorial should be paid by the estate. As soon as the estate has access to the deceased person’s bank accounts, we can look to reimburse those types of expenses.

Do I need a lawyer?

Not necessarily, but you probably want one. We know that our clients are smart enough to do this on their own but we also know our clients are also very busy people who don’t really want to learn the ins-and-outs of probate. We analogize it to getting someone to fix your car or install a new circuit breaker in your house. You could probably do it, with YouTube, Google, and a lot of help from clever buddies but . . . do you want to? Also, with a lawyer, you know you’ve done it the right way and it won’t come back to bite you later!

Can I be executor if I live in a different state?

Totally. Most of our clients are out-of-state.

How long does probate take?

A typical probate usually lasts anywhere between 4 months to 1 year.

How long does it take to get appointed as Executor by the court?

We can get a probate opened in a few days but it can take up to a month, depending on the circumstances.

Do I have to pay for everything myself?

Typically, the estate will pay all expenses related to the administration of the estate, including attorneys’ fees, taxes, accountants’ fees, memorial expenses, etc. It may be that you have to advance expenses on behalf of the estate and you should keep track of these expenses to ensure they are reimbursed by the estate once the estate has access to the deceased person’s bank accounts, etc.

Your Legacy Matters

ABOUT US

The Narrows Law Group is a Tacoma law firm located in the heart of Old Town providing advice and representation in the areas of estate planning, probate, domestic relations, and adoptions.

Let us help you find legal solutions tailored to fit your needs.

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info@thenarrowslawgroup.com

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