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Washington Probate Resources

Welcome to the Probate Resource Page of 5 Star Real Estate Services. Our dedicated team is here to assist court-appointed executors and administrators in navigating the intricate probate process while providing valuable resources. Please note that we are not licensed attorneys and cannot offer legal advice. If you do not have legal representation, we recommend clicking here to find an attorney who specializes in probate law.
First and foremost, we extend our sincere condolences for your loss. We understand that this is a challenging and emotional time for you and your family. With that in mind, we have streamlined our content to be concise and straightforward, ensuring that you can quickly access the information you need without any unnecessary complications.
Take a moment to review the probate process for estates in Washington. Our comprehensive probate checklist is designed to help you prepare, and we encourage you to share it with your attorney to determine which steps are applicable to your specific situation. When it comes to selling estate real estate, you can rely on our expertise. For personalized assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our designated broker, Delores Cante-Henderson.

At 5 Star Real Estate Services, we are committed to providing unwavering support throughout the probate journey.

Washington Probate 101


Washington probate is the formal, court-supervised process of carrying out a decedent’s last wishes through validation of their last will & testament (if any). Probate can be complicated. The rules and procedures for probate may vary regionally based on local laws, applicable forms & other established practices. And because it is a cumbersome legal process, it is strongly recommended that an estate attorney is hired.

Washington probate follows this general flow: contact the court for appointment of the personal representative/executor assignment, submission of the will (if any), inventory and submission of valuations of all relevant assets, obtain court and beneficiary approval, and then distribute the assets to beneficiaries.

With the help of an estate attorney, the executor or personal representative is also responsible for the following. Please note, that there may be additional steps in between as each estate will have its own needs:

✔️ File a petition for probate to the probate court in the country of the deceased
✔️ Decide if there are any probate assets
✔️ Manage and locate these assets
✔️ Obtain the value of the estate’s assets
✔️ Receive payments and paying taxes on behalf of the estate
✔️ Set up an estate checking account and EIN
✔️ Interpret the will
✔️ Communicate and work with heirs/beneficiaries
✔️ If there is no will, then distribute assets according to local law
✔️ Officially notify creditors
✔️ Follow all legal deadlines
✔️ Pay funeral bills
✔️ File estate tax returns
✔️ Submit death certificate
✔️ Submit distribution receipts and officially close the estate

Estate may not have to go through probate
In some cases, an estate may not have to go through the probate process. Albeit, the larger the estate, the more likely probate will be required. Probate is usually required when:

 Poorly written will, or not properly executed
 Assets are complex and high value (in excess of $100K)
 Proper heir(s) are debated
 Disputes over how assets are divided
 Heir or beneficiary is a minor
 Real estate is involved

Dying without a will
When someone dies without a will in Washington, state law directs who gets the decedent’s assets. This is called “passing intestate”. When this happens, the assets are governed by intestate succession laws. Generally, only spouses, registered domestic partners, and blood relatives inherit under intestate succession, while unmarried partners and friends do not. The general order of relatives who will inherit the decedent’s probate property is:

1. Surviving spouse
2. Children and grandchildren
3. Parents
4. Siblings
5. Grandparents
6. Aunts and uncles
7. Other extended family

Assets excluded from probate

And it’s important to remember that many types of assets may be inherited outside of the probate process, regardless of whether there is a will or not. For those items, intestate succession laws do not apply.
Some of those examples include:

1. Property titled to a living trust
2. Life insurance proceeds with a named beneficiary
3. Funds in an IRA, 401(k), or other retirement account with a named beneficiary
4. Securities held in a transfer-on-death account
5. Payable-on-death bank accounts
6. Property owned in joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety with someone else

The cost of probate

Probate and settling an estate generally average around $15,000, but remember that the money spent is coming from the estate’s funds.

Personal representatives/executors are compensated

Being an executor or personal representative takes a lot of time, so they are usually compensated by the estate in return. They are doing a fair amount of the work for an estate.

Hiring an estate attorney
Lawyers can easily cost thousands of dollars during the estate settlement process, but if you know there is going to be a fight over any assets or have a complicated estate, it is definitely worth it. An executor/personal representative can absolutely prepare all of the probate forms themselves. However, consider the following:

 A lawyer saves time, provides legal guidance and in some cases, can relieve pressure and stress.
 A lawyer can make sure that there are no notable errors or missed deadlines.
 The larger and more complex the estate, the more reasons there are to get a lawyer.

Washington Probate Documents



This checklist provides a list of documents an executor may need for their first appointment with your estate attorney. Every situation is different; however, this checklist is a great starting point.

Use this form for lost titles or vessels. Contact the Department of Licensing for more information: 360-902-3770

Use this form for inheritance of a vehicle or vessel or were awarded through litigation. Contact the Department of Licensing for more information: 360-902-3770


Washington Probate Resources



If you are looking for an attorney, kindly consider the from this selection of experts as they specialize in estate/probate/real estate.



Asset Appraisers

Looking for an asset appraiser to determine the value of collectibles, antiques or fine China? Look no further, these asset appraisers can assist in determining the value of estate assets.



Auto Sales

This listed auto sales experts are experienced in handling estate vehicles. They are familiar with the proper documents and can ensure a smooth process for selling or transferring a vehicle involved in probate or estate settlements.



Cleaning Services

These experienced house cleaners come highly recommended and are very thorough. A clean house makes a great first impression when selling a home.




Certified Public Accountants

At some point during the probate process, the decedent’s tax returns will need to be filed for the year passing. These selected CPAs are familiar with the unique complexities of probate matters and can ensure this financial matter is handled properly.



Small Project Contractors

These handyman companies are reliable and skilled with property maintenance and repairs. These contractors ensure that necessary repairs and improvements are handled promptly and professionally.





Simplify the process of decluttering and clearing estate properties with a hauling company. These companies make it easy to manage the removal of unwanted items during probate or estate settlement.




Local Support Groups

Find solace and understanding through a bereavement support group. Connect with compassionate communities that offer emotional support and guidance during the challenging times of loss.



  • Mtn View Funeral Home4100 Steilacoom Blvd. S.W., Lakewood WA – Adult parental Loss Support Group, support groups for widowed/lifemates(253) 584-0252



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