When planning your estate, you may have questions about whether it will have to go through probate. With this process, the court supervises your designated representative as he or she settles your affairs.
Review the criteria that determine whether your Washington state estate will require probate.
Not every type of asset has to go through probate in Washington. Some of the most common non-probate items include:
- Assets you place in the ownership of a living trust
- Funds from a pension, retirement fund, payable on death bank account or life insurance account with a designated beneficiary
- Assets that fall under a community property agreement you have with your partner or spouse
- Assets you hold in joint tenancy, such as the home you live in with your spouse.
If you want to avoid probate, you can take steps to make much of your property exempt from probate.
When the executor you name in your will petitions the court to settle your estate, he or she must submit an inventory of assets. If the non-probate assets in your estate are worth less than $100,000, your estate can bypass probate. Instead, your intended heirs simply submit a court affidavit to claim their estate assets.
Larger estates require probate, which begins when the court issues “letters testamentary” to your executor. This gives your representative permission to settle the estate.
Probate can take up to a year in Washington, but complex estates that have challenges from possible heirs or creditors may take longer to resolve in court.