What is Probate?
Probate is process through the court in which a deceased person’s estate is distributed to heirs and/or designated beneficiaries. As part of this process, any debts owed to creditors are paid as well. If the decedent died with a validly executed will (see RCW 11.12), the estate will pass according to the terms of the will. If the person died intestate (without a will), the decedent’s estate will be passed to heirs-at-law under the laws of intestacy.
Do I have to Open a Probate?
When a close friend or family member has died, you should first determine if probate is necessary and what your role might be. In Washington, a probate is almost always necessary when the decedent owned real estate and was unmarried at the time of death. Sometimes, even when the decedent was married, probate may be necessary. Even without real estate, if the value of the decedent’s assets appears to exceed $100,000, a probate is likely needed. Sometimes, even if there are few assets in an estate, disputes among those who seek to make a claim to any the decedent’s property can lead to the need for court intervention.
How Much Does Probate Cost?
Our firm provides legal services for most probates at a flat rate. Our base rate is $2,500. Court fees and other third-party costs are additional. We have found that billing at a flat rate relieves our clients of some of the uncertainty they may face when navigating the probate process. A flat fee also allows for the estate to be closed without any unpaid legal fees.
Our flat rate of $2,500 includes the preparation and presentation to the Court of:
- Petition for Order Granting General Letters of Administration, Non-Intervention Powers, Waiver of Bond and Other Initial Orders
- Order Appointing Personal Representative with non-intervention powers.
- Oath of Personal Representative
We will also obtain Letters of Administration (without a will) or Letters Testamentary (with a will) from the County Clerk. This document grants authority to the Personal Representative appointed by the Court to act on the Estate’s behalf.
Other court pleadings we will prepare and file include:
- Notice to Creditors.
- Notice of Appointment of PR and Pendency of Probate.
- Notice to the Department of Social and Health Services.
- Proof of Mailing Notice of Appointment to Heirs.
- Inventory and Appraisement. (client cooperation is necessary for the firm to complete an accurate inventory and appraisement).
- Receipts of Heirs.
- Declaration of Completion of Probate.
- Notice of Filing Declaration of Completion.
- Proof of Mailing Declaration of Completion to Heirs.
We will also publish notice to creditors as required by Washington law, communicate with heirs as necessary, and provide counsel on matters relating to the estate.
If the circumstances of the decedent’s estate are more complicated, the flat rate may be higher. Please consult with one of our attorneys for a rate quote. In some circumstances, an hourly rate may be more appropriate. For example, if a will is contested or the estate is brought into litigation, our firm would require an hourly fee arrangement.
North City Law Flat Fee Probate
During a consultation with our firm, we will determine a scope of services based on your circumstances. We are sensitive to the personal nature of probates and take the utmost care in helping our clients to navigate the process. Call North City Law at 206-413-7288 today.