Going through probate can be a complicated and lengthy process. Probate is a court-supervised process that is often required to settle the final affairs of the deceased. It provides the surviving spouse and other close relatives the legal authority to gather the assets of the deceased, pay taxes and debts, and eventually transfer assets to inheritors.
With more than 25 years of experience, attorney at law Robert Taylor-Manning can assist beneficiaries or fiduciaries with all stages of will probate or trust administration. He provides detailed guidance, skilled advocacy, and compassionate direction. Northwest Elder Law Center represents clients in Kennewick, Washington, and the surrounding area as well as Portland, Oregon nearby counties.
Probate is the legal process of the distribution of assets left by a deceased person, which is overseen by a court. Assets are defined as anything of value that a person owns. The probate process may be necessary for a variety of situations, including:
Deciding how to distribute assets if the deceased has no will;
Verifying that a will is legal and the intentions of the deceased are acted on;
Collecting debts owed to the deceased; or
Settling disputes between parties who believe they are entitled to the deceased’s assets
There are some assets that don’t require the probate process such as those held in a revocable living trust or held in joint tenancy, life insurance proceeds, or assets assigned in a community property agreement.
If the deceased named an executor in their will, then that person will file a Petition for Probate with the court to initiate probate. If the decedent died without a will, referred to as dying “intestate,” then the court will appoint an administrator to oversee the probate process. Whether named in a will or appointed by the court, the executor or administrator is often referred to as the estate’s “personal representative.”
Once the personal representative is determined, the court will then issue proof of the executor’s authority to collect and manage the property of the estate.
The executor fulfills their role as they:
collect and inventory the deceased person's assets, and keep them safe;
pay valid debts and taxes; and
distribute the remaining property according to the will, or if there's no will, according to the guidelines established under state laws.
Once all debts and taxes have been paid and assets distributed, the executor may request that the court close the probate case.
Both Washington and Oregon allow for a “small estate” proceeding which permits an abbreviated probate process resulting in less time and fewer expenses. In Washington, this option is available when the decedent has less than $100,000 in assets. In Oregon, the “small estate” can be used if the estate’s personal property is valued at no more than $75,000 and real property is valued at no more than $200,000, for a total aggregate estate value of no more than $275,000. Other requirements may apply to qualify for this process.
A probate attorney can help guide loved ones and appointed personal representatives of the estate through an often complicated process. They can present options, assist in key decision-making, and facilitate executor duties.
Legal counsel can also help clients avoid the probate process altogether through strategic estate planning. According to Advance Capital Management, 53% of Americans said that they do not have an estate plan because it is difficult to find an adviser they trust to create one. Attorney Robert Taylor-Manning takes your estate planning needs seriously. He understands how important it is that you have a trusted professional by your side.
It’s never too soon to start planning for an unpredictable future. What you do now can make life easier for your loved ones after you pass.
Probate is emotional and complex but you aren’t alone. Northwest Elder Law Center can help you navigate key decisions and guide you in through the process. With over 25 years of experience, Robert Taylor-Manning has the skill and compassion to ease the burden of the probate process. He proudly serves clients in Kennewick, Washington, and the surrounding area as well as Portland, Oregon, and all nearby counties. Call today to schedule a free consultation.