This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cropped-CSM-Pro-Head-Shot.jpg
Christopher S. Mulvaney, Esq.


Compassionate Legal Counsel During A Difficult Time

When someone dies, the need for two determinations occurs:

(1) whether a probate is needed; and

(2) if so, in which court should probate be opened. 

In Washington, probate is required for all real property that has no other way to pass out of a decedent’s name (such as a transfer on death deed, Trust, LLC, or joint tenancy), and for all assets over $100,000 that have no other way of passing to beneficiaries (such as a beneficiary designation, payable on death designation, Trust, LLC, or joint ownership).

Probate may be opened in the County where a person dies or in the County where property is owned.  Generally, opening Probate where real property is owned is most efficient for Estate administration because a Probate Court Order will be needed in each County where real property is located.  For example, if a King County resident who owned a home in King County and owned a vacation property in Broward County, Florida passed away that had no other way to pass to beneficiaries died in Maricopa County, Arizona then there is no advantage to a probate in Arizona.  This is because if a Probate was opened in King County, then an adjunct proceeding would need to be opened in Broward County, Florida in order to get an Order from a Broward County Judge recognizing the validity of the appointment of the Executor and authorizing the Executor to transfer the Florida property.


The death of a loved one is never easy.   As an experienced probate attorney, I understand the personal and legal challenges people face after losing someone. I provide compassionate and sound legal counsel to those who need assistance with estate administration.

  • Probate is the Court supervised process for publicly appointing an Executor (AKA Personal Representative – the gender neutral term) of the Estate to file an inventory, and pay taxes, creditors, and beneficiaries.
  • Probate is the last resort method of transferring property of a deceased person to a beneficiary that has no other way to transfer.
  • Probate does not require a Will.
  • The fast, cheap, and private ways of avoiding the slow, expensive and public Probate include:
    • Transferring real estate with a Transfer on Death Deed,
    • Naming Beneficiaries on IRA, 401(k), life insurance and brokerage accounts,
    • Using Payable on Death (POD) Designations,
    • Re-titling accounts in your name as Trustee of your Trust.

A good book about what to do when a loved one dies is called: I’m Dead, Now What?: Important Information About My Belongings, Business Affairs, and Wishes: Peter Pauper Press

Here is how to mail notice to a credit bureau to get a deceased notice making fraud less likely.

One of the advantages of doing a credit freeze while you are alive is that this step becomes unnecessary.

Positively impacting the grieving of loved ones for their loss of you is important to promote peace and family harmony.  I have been to a couple of “wakes” that were beer and pizza paid for by the Estate of the Deceased that got everyone together to tell stories and receive sentimental items.  Everyone came together and thought the Deceased would have really loved the gathering.  It was all about the people.  Some more valuable property was passed outside of the gathering, but it was incidental and irrelevant when compared to the love everyone had for each other and their lost loved one.  I wish that for everyone.

At Mulvaney Law Offices, PLLC, in Bellevue, Washington, I work with families and Personal Representatives to navigate them through probate. As your lawyer, I will offer straightforward guidance to help you handle your loved one’s estate appropriately and efficiently, while maintaining harmony among survivors to the maximum extent possible.

Top 10 Probate Pitfalls

If you are probating an estate, it is important to seek skilled legal guidance to avoid significant pitfalls that can lead to legal troubles and rifts in families. Common pitfalls include:

1. No will
2. No witnesses of will
3. Poor choice of personal representative
4. Personal representative not communicating with beneficiaries
5. Disagreements among beneficiaries
6. Disagreement between beneficiaries and personal representative
7. Inadequate inventory
8. Personal representative acting without beneficiary consent
9. Failure to secure estate property
10. Lack of focus on emotional impact of death and relationships among
surviving loved ones


Legal Services Offered

While my practice is centered on helping consumers get out of debt and protect themselves and their families in the event of death or incapacity, I am happy to offer additional legal services to my existing estate planning and bankruptcy clients.


I offer my clients legal counsel regarding foreclosure, buying and selling real estate, Transfer on Death Deeds, prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements, name changes, and real estate matters generally.  MULVANEY LAW OFFICES, PLLC does not do litigation.


Contact Me For A Free Legal Consultation

Are you worried about mounting debt? Or facing a Judgment, garnishment or foreclosure? Have you been putting off getting a Will for too long?


I offer free and confidential initial legal consultations to potential bankruptcy and estate planning clients.

Please email me at or use the form below to schedule your consultation.


For more information about my practice in Bellevue, Washington, please consult my Blog.



Mulvaney Law Offices, PLLC is located in Bellevue, Washington, representing estate planning & probate, chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy, and real estate transactions clients in:
  • Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Bellevue, Redmond, Renton, Issaquah, Sammamish, Maple Valley, Burien, SeaTac, and throughout King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties.