Kennewick Probate Lawyers
Probate is a legal process supervised by the courts and it is sometimes required after a person passes away. During probate the law and any documents pertaining to a person’s estate, such as a will, dictate what will happen to the property of the deceased. The probate process also gives the personal representative of the estate the authority to pay debts and taxes, collect assets, and ultimately transfer the property to the heirs of the deceased.
Thinking about your final wishes is not something anyone wants to do. However, by working with a Kennewick probate lawyer while you are still able to protect your loved ones and ensure they are provided for after you are gone.
What Services Does a Kennewick Probate Lawyer Provide?
With so many forms and templates available online, you may not see the need to work with a Kennewick probate lawyer. Unfortunately, this can result in mistakes that render legal documents invalid and opens your estate to challenges. An attorney can ensure these mistakes do not happen and provide other services including:
- Explain the legal process to individuals who are planning their estate and to loved ones after a relative has passed away,
- Help with drafting filing your will,
- Protect your assets for your beneficiaries,
- Create a guardianship,
- Assist with any challenges to a will, including charges of undue influence,
- Represent during probate, estate, and trust litigation,
- Assist with formal and summary probate administration,
- Represent personal representatives, and
- Appoint a special administrator.
The above are just a few ways a Kennewick probate lawyer can help during probate while also identifying ways you can help your loved ones avoid the process.
Important Elements of Probate You Should Know
Regardless of whether you are responsible for a relative’s estate or you are setting up your own, there are some important elements of the probate you should know. These include:
- The need for the probate process: Probate is not always necessary, but the process can protect the personal representative from legal challenges and make sure the estate is properly distributed to the heirs named in the will or as stipulated by state law.
- Obligations of the personal representative: The personal representative will organize the important documents of the estate, pay debts and taxes, and distribute the assets according to the instructions in the will. The process will also distribute payments to anyone owed by the estate.
- Testate vs. intestate: When a person passes away with a will, they are testate and their property will be distributed according to the will. When a person does not have a will, or the will is not valid, they have died intestate and their property will be distributed according to state law.
Probate is a process during which the courts administer a deceased person’s estate. During probate, creditors can make a claim to the estate and assets are distributed among the beneficiaries, or the heirs. The process of probate is a long and expensive one, which is why many people want to help their loved ones avoid it. Below, our Kennewick probate lawyer explains the most common ways to do this.
A Living Trust
In Kennewick, as throughout the rest of the state, you can create a living trust for nearly any property you own, including bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, and more. A living trust is a legal document which outlines the property within the trust, the trustee who will oversee the trust after you pass away, and the beneficiaries. Upon your death, the trustee will then distribute the property to your beneficiaries without the need to go through probate.
Joint Ownership of Property
If you jointly own property with another person, you can establish a right of survivorship. A right of survivorship allows the property to be transferred entirely to the surviving owner without the need to go through probate. Holding assets in joint tenancy can also allow property to transfer to a surviving owner in the event one of the owners passes away. However, each owner must own an equal share.
Community Property Agreements
It is common for married couples to create and sign a community property agreement. The agreement stipulates that when one of the spouses passes away, their assets are immediately converted into community property, which means it will be transferred to the surviving spouse. Under state law, any community property can be transferred to a surviving spouse without the need to go through probate.
Payable On Death Designations
Mainly used for bank accounts, a payable on death designation can allow for the funds in the account to be automatically transferred to the beneficiary. Until the time of your passing, you still control all the funds in the bank account and your beneficiary has no right to it during your lifetime.
Transfer on Death Registration
Like payable on death designations, a transfer on death registration can also allow property to be transferred to a beneficiary without the need to go through probate. Unlike payable on death designations, which are mainly used for bank accounts, transfer on death registrations are used mainly for stocks and bonds.
Transfer on Death Deeds
Transfer on death deeds allow for real estate property to automatically be transferred to a beneficiary upon the original owner’s death. While you sign the deed now, the property cannot be transferred until you pass away.
Call Our Probate Lawyer in Kennewick for Help
The probate process is a long and complicated one. Whether you are currently going through it, or you want to help your loved ones avoid it, our Kennewick probate lawyer at Moulton Law Offices, P.S. can help. Call us now at 1-509-328-2150, #9090 or contact us online to book an appointment and to learn more about how we can help.