Probate laws in each state govern the process of settling a deceased person’s estate. When the person has established an executor in his or her will, that person holds legal responsibility for probate.
Review the process of probate in Washington to inform the estate planning process.
Washington state requires probate only for estates worth at least $100,000. Many assets do not go through probate and do not count toward this minimum, including property held in a trust, with a named beneficiary, owned with a spouse or someone else, or covered by a valid community property agreement.
Estates that fall below the $100,000 threshold simply need a sworn affidavit from the executor for estate administration. For more valuable estates, the executor can request simplified probate from the court in the Washington county where the person lived. Otherwise, the court will oversee formal probate.
The probate process
During both simplified and formal probate, the executor will gather, protect and value the estate assets, pay taxes and debts owed by the estate, and distribute property to the intended heirs as established in the person’s will. He or she typically opens a bank account for estate business.
Washington allows the executor to decide whether to post a notice in the newspaper for possible creditors. Without taking this step, creditors have up to two years to come forward with a claim against the estate.
For 2021, Washington applies an estate tax only to estates worth more than $2.193 million. Federal estate tax takes effect for estates worth more than $11.7 million.