Skip to Content Top
header flair logo
Probate
header flair logo

Tacoma Probate Lawyer

The Probate Process

For a decedent with a clear and concise estate plan, the administration of the estate can often be seamlessly directed with few decisions subject to discretion or debate. However, even the most sophisticated among us have left gaps in our estate plan resulting in more challenges in estate administration. This is completely normal, not uncommon, but exactly why probate is so important.

Contact the McCarthy Law Office, PLLC online or at (844) 224-5029 for your free initial consultation.

The Six Steps Of Probate

Our Tacoma probate lawyer regularly helps our clients work through both simple and complex estate administration. Below is summary of the typical steps we’ll take together:

  • Step One: We obtain all the relevant information from you regarding the decedent and his or her estate planning documents and assets.
  • Step Two: We file a petition with the court and the court appoints the appropriate individual as the Personal Representative or Administrator of the Estate. In some cases, the court supervises this person’s administration activities, and in other cases this person is entitled to administer the estate without probate court supervision. 
  • Step Three: We provide notice of the estate administration to heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors. The legal process also requires us to publish notice in a newspaper.
  • Step Four: We wait 4 months for any claims against the estate. During that time, we work with you to create an inventory of the assets of the estate and take steps to ensure these assets are preserved and maintained during the probate process.
  • Step Five: After any claims against the estate are resolved, you distribute all of the assets of the estate in accordance with the Will or the laws intestate, (that is, if Decedent had no Will). These laws simply set forth who gets the Decedent’s assets if he or she passes without a Will. Of note, the entire probate process is basically the same in instances where no Will exists.
  • Step Six: We close the Estate. Sometimes, this merely requires the filing of documentation with the Court, and sometimes we need to ask the Court’s approval to close the estate.

Best of all, you will not have to learn these laws or procedures. That’s our job. We’ll do all the paperwork, prepare all the legal documents, and guide you through the probate process step by step. During this time, we want you to focus on doing the important work of grieving and caring for the people around you who have also lost a loved one.

Of course, there can be many nuances to this process based on the unique circumstances of each case, but the framework for estate administration remains by and large the same.  In addition to what is laid out above, it is important to understand some of the basic concepts relevant to probate:

Non-probate Assets

You may have heard there are some assets of the estate that are not subject to probate and which pass outside of the probate process altogether. These assets are referred to as non-probate assets, and typically include the decedent’s investment accounts, life insurance, and assets held in trust. 

These non-probate assets are often gifted via transfer on death designations and are transferred outside of probate directly to the beneficiaries named per the applicable designation. While these assets pass directly to the named beneficiaries outside of the probate process, they will often be included in calculating the gross estate for estate tax purposes and could be subject to claims against the estate.

Estate Tax

The dreaded estate tax is top-of-mind for most when preparing their estate planning documents, and certainly becomes even more relevant when administering a decedent’s estate. Any property transferred at death is subject to both Federal Estate Tax and Washington State Estate Tax. However, these taxes only apply to estates over a certain size of the respective 2019 exemption thresholds as noted below:

  • Federal Estate Tax threshold is $11.4 Million
  • Washington State Estate Tax threshold is nearly $2.2 Million

While we do not provide tax advice, we will help you determine whether there is a taxable estate and outline the next steps.

For your free initial consultation from our Tacoma probate lawyer, contact us online or call (844) 224-5029.

Community Property Agreements and Probate

When our grandparents or parents lose their spouses, the probate process can be avoided if the parties have a Community Property Agreement (“CPA”) in place.  Pursuant to Washington State Law, the disposition of the decedent’s interest in community property occurs by operation of law if the parties have a CPA. As a result, typically no probate action is required. Nevertheless, the surviving spouse must still take certain steps to ensure proper transfer of the decedent’s assets, and depending on the language of the CPA, separate action may be required for disposition of separate property. If this is the situation you find yourself in, we will prepare the necessary documentation and make sure all appropriate steps are taken.

While there are many nuances to the probate process, please know you can rely on our experience and common sense to help facilitate and complete the process with the decedent(s) and your best interests in mind. 

header flair logo

Community Property Agreements and Probate.

When our grandparents or parents lose their spouses, the probate process can be avoided if the parties have a Community Property Agreement (“CPA”) in place.  Pursuant to Washington State Law, the disposition of the decedent’s interest in community property occurs by operation of law if the parties have a CPA. As a result, typically no probate action is required. Nevertheless, the surviving spouse must still take certain steps to ensure proper transfer of the decedent’s assets, and depending on the language of the CPA, separate action may be required for disposition of separate property. If this is the situation you find yourself in, we will prepare the necessary documentation and make sure all appropriate steps are taken.

While there are many nuances to the probate process, please know you can rely on our experience and common sense to help facilitate and complete the process with the decedent(s) and your best interests in mind. 

Probate & Trust Administration

Probate and trust administration are the legal processes that take place after a person's death. 

Probate includes identifying and inventorying the deceased person's property, paying their debts, and distributing the remaining assets as the will (or state law if there's no will) directs. Executors of an estate will need legal assistance to navigate this complex process, ensuring they comply correctly and fully with the law. Additionally, heirs or other parties with vested interests may need a lawyer to protect their rights and interests.

In probate, the crucial steps that must be undertaken include: 

  • Proving in court that the deceased person’s will is valid
  • Identifying and inventorying the deceased person’s property
  • Appraising the property
  • Paying debts and taxes
  • Distributing the remaining property per the will or state law if no will exists

Laws govern each step and must be completed accordingly. The executor has a fiduciary duty, meaning they must act in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries. Failure to adequately fulfill this duty can result in legal repercussions, including financial liabilities.

Contact our Tacoma probate attorney today by calling (844) 224-5029 for more information. 

 Continue Reading Read Less
header flair logo

Client Testimonials

We Treat Our Clients Like People, Not Numbers
    “Conor is great.”
    “I get the impression my situation was not just a legal issue to be dealt with but that he really cared that things turned out for the best.”
    - Jeff W.
    “Great customer service and very timely”
    “I would highly recommend this firm for wills and estate documents.”
    - B Hayes
    “Conor is amazing.”
    “His service, follow-up and approach are second to none.”
    - Charles J.
    “Conor was knowledgeable, friendly and prompt. He answered all our questions and explained things thoroughly to make sure we understood.”
    “Conor was knowledgeable, friendly and prompt. He answered all our questions and explained things thoroughly to make sure we understood.
    - Jay B.
    “I had Conor help with our business operating agreement and then my personal will for my wife and myself. He was very responsive, informative and pleasant to work with. He made our experience easy and quick. I would recommend him to my friends and family.”
    “I had Conor help with our business operating agreement and then my personal will for my wife and myself. He was very responsive, informative and pleasant to work with. He made our experience easy and quick. I would recommend him to my friends and family.
    - Johnny M.
    “Conor McCarthy is an exceptional attorney! Among his many great talents, he will break down complex scenarios to their core issues promptly, avoiding bloated billing. Having worked with numerous attorneys over the years, it is refreshing to find one who wi”
    “Conor McCarthy is an exceptional attorney! Among his many great talents, he will break down complex scenarios to their core issues promptly, avoiding bloated billing. Having worked with numerous attorneys over the years, it is refreshing to find one who wi”
    - Diogenes X.
    “Conor McCarthy was a godsend.”

    I hired Attorney Conor McCarthy in 2016. I had sustained a serious work injury and was having problems communicating and understanding the process with the Washington State Labor and Industries.

    Conor McCarthy was a godsend, he completely took control, worked successfully with L&I and ultimately brought my case to the best conclusion for my injury and case. Without hesitation, I highly recommend Attorney Conor McCarthy.

    - Corky G.
    “He is honest, trustworthy, knowledgeable and gets the job done efficiently and effectively.”
    Conor McCarthy has been my attorney for years. He is honest, trustworthy, knowledgeable and gets the job done efficiently and effectively. He has handled a variety of issues for my mother and me and we have been more than satisfied with the results. He is easy to talk to. He listens and hears what you are telling him. We have the utmost faith in him and have recommended him to friends and family.
    - Linda O.
header flair logo

Contact Us Today

At McCarthy Law Office, PLLC, we're always ready to take your calls! Give us a call or fill out the form below to contact one of our team members.

  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.
  • By submitting, you agree to be contacted about your request & other information using automated technology. Message frequency varies. Msg & data rates may apply. Text STOP to cancel. Acceptable Use Policy
  • You Are Cared For As a Person, Not a Number
  • Direct Access & Personal Relationship with Attorney
  • Nearly Two Decades of Experience
  • Offering Free Initial Consultations