Probate is the legal process for transferring a person’s legal assets to heirs or beneficiaries after they pass away. In Washington State, the probate process can be relatively straightforward if the deceased person has well-prepared estate planning documents in place. However, serving as an executor can also be time-consuming and challenging.
The probate process involves filing a petition with the court and following a series of legal steps. A will, if there is one, needs to be filed with the court and legal documents must be filed for the court to appoint an executor or administrator. Potential creditors also need to be notified. Executors have a fiduciary duty and are responsible for several tasks during the probate process including gathering the deceased person’s assets, paying outstanding bills and debts, and distributing the remaining assets to the heirs or beneficiaries according to the deceased person’s wishes.
In general, the probate process takes between six months and a year. The probate process can be longer, however, for complex estates.