Surviving Spouse Rights in Washington. Do I have to file a probate for my spouse?
There is a common misconception about what “Community Property” actually means. What community property means is that while you are alive and if you are married and if you acquire property during the course of the marriage, you each own 50% of the title of title to the property (both real and personal property). IF you want to do something with the property, you both have to agree. For instance, if you want to sell the real estate, both spouses have to agree to sell the community property. If one spouse says “yes” and one spouse says “no,” then the property cannot be sold because both spouses do not agree on what to do with the property that they own together.
Community Property DOES NOT MEAN that when one spouse dies that the other spouse automatically gets the other 50% title from the deceased spouse. The deceased spouse can theoretically leave their 50% share title to whomever they want (*this is not necessarily always absolute, but, you get the picture).
So, for a surviving spouse to acquire the deceased spouse’s 50% of the title, the surviving spouse typically has to file a probate and obtain authority from the Court to transfer title to the rightful heirs as set forth in the terms of a Will or if no Will, then via the Washington State Intestate Statute law. Also, the Will by itself does not automatically transfer title. The Will has to be probated with the Superior Court and a Court Order entered admitting the Will to probate and appointing a personal representative with authority to transfer title of property of the deceased person’s estate.
We handle a lot of probate cases with client meetings by Zoom and we can FedEx documents to you.
You can call (253) 815-6940 to set up your free initial consultation. At the appointment, it is helpful if you bring with you the following items: 1. Certified Copy of Death Certificate; 2. A copy of the Last Will and Testament; 3. The names, addresses and telephone numbers of all children and/or beneficiaries named in the Will; 4. The addresses of any real estate owned by the deceased; 5. Any information concerning mortgage companies or other creditors of the deceased.
We handle probate cases all over the State of Washington and we have the ability to file the probate in King County or Pierce County in order to save money for administration costs and make it more convenient.
For information about the ex parte probate department for King County, click this link.
Attorney Christopher A. Benson
Law Offices of Christopher A. Benson, PLLC
email: [email protected]