AVOIDING PROBATE – IT IS BEST TO AVOID GETTING THE COURT INVOLVED TO ADMINISTER ESTATES
I heard a Judge say in open Court: “My job is spreading misery. If anyone leaves happy I have failed.”
Does that sound like a place you want to go?
Compassionate Legal Counsel During A Difficult Time
When someone dies, two things need to be determined in order to administer the Estate:
(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 that was previously Executrix) 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. In fact, not having a Will means the beneficiaries have to talk with each other and agree about the Executor, the inventory, and the process in advance which reduces the likelihood of disputes. A Will that has been witnessed can just be submitted to Court without any conversations taking place first. I can’t tell you how many times I have been contacted regarding a lost Will. King County has a Registry in which they will keep your Will for 100 years for $20, but you have to pay another $20 to change your Will. Even if you do have a Will it can be declared invalid resulting in an intestate probate anyway.
- 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.
The best Washington Probate websites are below:
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.
CELEBRATION OF THE LIFE OF THE DEPARTED
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.
Unfortunately, disputes, fights, and litigation are common in estate administration. The King County Court is underfunded. There is not a dedicated Probate Commissioner, instead the department is the Ex Parte & Probate.
Do yourself a favor (and the Court a favor), and handle your affairs without involvement of the Court and the burden of time, expense, and effort. Your loved ones will thank you for the increased peace and harmony you have provided for them during a difficult time of grief.
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.
Legal Services Offered
THIS WEBSITE INCLUDES GENERAL INFORMATION AND
THE OPINIONS OF CHRISTOPHER S. MULVANEY WHICH ARE INTENTED TO STIMULATE A BASIS FOR QUESTIONS RELATED TO YOUR PARTICULAR FACTUAL CIRCUMSTANCES BEFORE YOU ACT.
THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE.
IF YOU WANT LEGAL ADVICE, PLEASE MAKE AN APPOINTMENT TO SPEAK WITH ME.
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.
Are you worried about mounting debt?
Or facing a Judgment, Garnishment or Foreclosure?
Have you been putting off getting an estate plan for too long?
I offer my clients legal counsel regarding foreclosure, buying and selling real estate, Transfer on Death Deeds, and real estate matters generally.
MULVANEY LAW OFFICES, PLLC does not do litigation.
Christopher S. Mulvaney’s Mission:
To Always Be a Human Being First – and My Role Second.
To First, Do No Harm, then to provide the best legal outcome, smoothest process, best value, and to make a positive difference in the life of every client.
Christopher S. Mulvaney’s Mantra:
May I be filled with loving kindness for all life.
May I be safe from dangers within and without.
May I be healthy in body, mind, socially, and spiritually.
May I be at ease and happy doing good in the world.
Every client is an estate planning client.
Additional services related to debt, bankruptcy, and real estate are available to estate planning clients.
I offer initial ZOOM legal consultations to prospective estate planning and bankruptcy clients for two reasons:
(1) determining if the issues are within my practice areas (the “wheelhouse“), and
(2) determining whether a potential client is willing to let me lead them to the best likelihood of achieving a favorable outcome with the smoothest process of getting there.
DISCLAIMER: The use of email or this form for communication with MULVANEY LAW OFFICES, PLLC does not establish an Attorney-Client Relationship. Time-sensitive information should not be sent through this Form or through email. Confidential information can be uploaded into a shared encrypted folder after you have made initial contact with me.
- Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Bellevue, Redmond, Renton, Issaquah, Sammamish, Maple Valley, Burien, SeaTac, and throughout King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties.
If you have read this far, you may be interested to know what I need to explain to potential clients very quickly which is the intersection in the Venn Diagram above of my practice areas and insurance coverage. As you can see the numbers of case types that are not in my practice areas is large, as is the number of case types that are neither in my practice area nor covered by legal insurance. The intersection is what I call the Wheelhouse. It contains two practice areas – estate planning and bankruptcy that pay all of the bills.
The small miscellaneous bit of my practice which I only do in conjunction with estate planning (bankruptcy is also done in conjunction with estate planning, so every client is an estate planning client. The challenge to me is to quickly explain to prospective clients that the long list of miscellaneous services on the left side of the diagram do not pay the bills – they are simply done to assist my estate planning clients with other matters that are not economical for lawyers to handle in isolation, so they would likely have difficulty finding counsel to assist them.
That is the difference between paying out of pocket by the hour and using flat fee legal insurance. If you are paying by the hour, you have more latitude regarding what the scope of service includes and what it does not. However, if the issue is too small you are not likely to find a lawyer to assist you even if you are willing to pay more than the market hourly rate because many smaller cases interfere with revenue production, increase stress, and increase risk.
That is an important part of why I do what I do the way I do it. There are many lawyers to serve you if you have means, in the manner you wish to be served. However, the majority of middle class and lower middle class people do not have access to legal representation and advice when they need it. In 1979, I heard Jimmy Carter give a speech in which he said that America is over lawyered and under represented. That is more true now than it was then.
I see my niche in the law as representing people in the most economical way possible for the most people, which is through legal insurance. Egalitarian access to legal services affordable by as many people as possible is a value for me. I have the privilege of earning a living in a manner that is consistent with my values. So, if you choose to become a client of MULVANEY LAW OFFICES, PLLC I thank you for allowing me to be who I am in my work, and to serve with my whole self – not divorced from consideration for the good of society in the pursuit of forever more profit.