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How long does the probate process take?

When a loved one passes away, time may be the only thing that allows you to move past the loss. When considering probate and estate planning, time is also an important factor in the process. If you are left in charge of an estate as an executor, you should understand the legal timeline to follow to ensure that loved ones receive the assets they are granted as beneficiaries to a will.

How long is an estate in probate?

As an executor in Washington, you have up to 30 days after the testator's death to produce a will. After the executor is granted his or her appropriate powers by a judge, distribution of the estate can begin. With assistance from an attorney, you can inform loved ones of their benefits and the steps necessary to take to obtain legal possession of assets. 

Any tips to make the process go smoothly?

The wishes of every testator and the inner workings of their estate plan make the probate process unique in each case. Following the 30 days after the testator's death, the probate process generally ranges from four months to two years, which sometimes depends on the debts owed to creditors.

However, no matter your family's circumstance, there are steps you and your loved ones can take to help complete the process in a timely manner.

1. Identify an executor before the testator passes away

Conversations regarding death and the management of assets are never easy, but neither is a drawn out legal process when loved ones are grieving. Failing to write a will or name an executor may lengthen time an estate is in probate due to court intervention or the contesting of a will.

2. Notify creditors of a testator's death

According to CBS News, 70 percent of Americans die with debt and owe an average of $62,000. Creditors are still owed their due when a loved one passes away, so debt may be paid out of an estate plan before assets are passed onto beneficiaries.

3. Complete receipts and waivers

When a loved one receives assets as a beneficiary, they should complete a receipt and waiver to declare that the passing of an estate is complete. An attorney can write receipts and waivers to ensure they are completed in accordance with the law.

Now that you have an understanding of the probate timeline and the responsibilities of an executor, you can be better prepared to manage an estate with the help of an attorney.

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Marsh, Higgins, Beaty & Hatch, P.C.
1112 Daniels Street, Suite 200
Vancouver, WA 98660

Toll Free: 866-678-1372
Phone: 360-450-0993
Fax: 360-694-1758
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