Surviving spouse rights in the State of Washington is a confusing topic for a lot of people. Property does not get “automatically” transferred to the surviving spouse. 60% of American citizens do not have an estate plan. Therefore, the vast majority of surviving spouses have to hire a lawyer and go through a formal probate in the State of Washington. Here are answers to the most common questions.
Surviving spouse rights in Washington State
Community property Washington State death
Can you get a letter of testamentary without probate
Do i need a lawyer to get a letter of testamentary
Letter of testamentary Washington State
We understand that dealing with the loss of a spouse is an incredibly difficult and emotional time. Amidst the grieving process, it can be overwhelming to navigate the legal requirements that come with the passing of a loved one. In the state of Washington, the probate process can be particularly complex, and it is essential to understand whether or not you need to file for probate after the death of your spouse.
The answers in this article may surprise you just like many of our clients. The reason is because people do not understand the probate process and they do not understand what community property really means.
Do you have to file a probate to handle real estate and bank accounts when a person dies?
The short answer is “Yes” unless the following applies:
Here are a couple of other clues:
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.
At The Law Offices of Christopher A. Benson, PLLC, we specialize in helping clients navigate the probate process in Washington, and we are here to provide guidance and support during this difficult time. In this article, we will answer the question: “Do I have to file for probate after my spouse’s death in Washington?” We will provide a comprehensive overview of the probate process in Washington, including when probate is necessary, how to file for probate, and what to expect during the probate process.
When is Probate Necessary in Washington?
Probate is a legal process that is used to transfer ownership of assets from a deceased individual to their beneficiaries. In Washington, probate is necessary in several different circumstances:
If any of these circumstances apply to your situation, you will need to file for probate in Washington.
How to File for Probate in Washington: Surviving Spouse Rights
Filing for probate in Washington can be a complex and time-consuming process, but our team at The Law Offices of Christopher A. Benson, PLLC is here to help guide you through every step of the way. The process generally involves the following steps:
What to Expect During the Probate Process
The probate process in Washington can take anywhere from six months to several years, depending on the complexity of the estate and whether or not there are any disputes between beneficiaries. During the probate process, you can expect the following:
In summary, if you are unsure whether or not you need to file for probate after the death of your spouse in Washington, it is best to seek legal guidance. At The Law Offices of Christopher A. Benson, PLLC, we are here to provide expert legal support during this difficult time. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.