Washington State residents without a valid will may anticipate the probate court distributing their net assets under the Evergreen State’s intestate succession laws. Your “net” estate consists of the assets remaining after your estate pays off your debts, according to the Washington State Legislature.
Your estate may also pay allowances, probate (or administration) expenses and your final taxes. After settling financial matters, your surviving spouse or registered domestic partner may take 100% ownership of your community property, as noted by Washington state statute RCW 11.04.015. If you own separate property, your surviving spouse or partner may take half. The court distributes the other half to your surviving children.
Who takes my property if I do not have a spouse or partner?
A Washington State probate court may distribute your assets to your surviving children if you do not leave behind a surviving spouse or domestic partner. Your property may divide equally between your children if you have more than one child. Both biological and adopted children may share in your estate. Stepchildren and foster kids, however, may not inherit your assets.
When dying without a spouse, partner or child, your surviving parents may inherit your entire estate. If your parents predeceased you, the court may distribute assets evenly to your surviving siblings and their descendants. Without parents and siblings, the court may find your grandparents. If they also predeceased you, the court may locate surviving aunts and uncles and their descendants.
How may I leave assets to my heirs and bypass probate?
To bypass probate, you may create a living trust or add beneficiaries to your financial accounts. Individual retirement accounts, 401(k)s and checking accounts generally allow payable-on-death benefits.
Without setting up payable-on-death accounts or trusts, Washington State requires the probate process when leaving behind property titled in your name. The court may oversee the transfer of your property even if you die with no will.