When a close friend or family member passes away, there are a host of issues to reconcile. In addition to grieving the loss of a loved one, you must consider finalizing the estate and carrying out the deceased’s wishes. 

Depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, probate may be required as a way to ensure that the last will and testament is valid. Yet, not all estates in Washington and throughout the nation are required to enter into the probate process. 

When is probate required? 

In Washington, probate is not always required by the court. Instead, surviving family members may choose the probate process as a way to organize the distribution of the estate. You may need to enter probate if your loved one’s property and assets total over $100,000. Furthermore, it may be best to go through probate if the deceased had property that was titled solely in his or her name. 

Probate is not required in cases where the property and assets are left in a living trust. In these situations, assets are transferred directly to the person named in the trust. Likewise, assets such as retirement plans and life insurance with a designated beneficiary go directly to the named beneficiary and do not pass through probate. 

How does probate work? 

Probate offers a way to distribute property and assets to the beneficiaries named in the will. In some cases, property and items may be sold in an estate sale and financial accounts are liquidated to gather the entire estate. If the estate had pending debts, they may be resolved using estate funds. 

Once the beneficiaries are located, they are given property and/or assets according to the last will and testament. In some cases, the deceased may name an estate administrator in the will. This person is responsible for seeing the estate through probate.