Do You Know You Can Avoid Probate?

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Real Estate

Chicago Title and Escrow recently sent this by email.  It provides excellent information and I thought it was worth sharing.


As always this is not intended to replace legal advice and rules are subject to change.  We strongly suggest every home buyer or seller contact an attorney and update your will every time you purchase or sell real estate.


"Things You Need to Know About Probate in Washington State

Probate in Washington State is a court-supervised process by which the ownership of property of a deceased person (the decedent) is administered and determined. Probate cases are opened in the Superior Courts of each county across Washington State.

Typically, decedent names who their personal representative Will be in their Will and that person, typically with the assistance of an attorney, can open a probate case and become officially named as the personal representative. If there is no Will, then an administrator may be appointed by the probate court. Below is a list of 4 real estate-related points everybody should know about probate in Washington state.

1. Probate is not required in Washington, regardless of whether the decedent died with a Will. Under Washington law, title to real property vests in the heirs and devisees upon the death of the decedent. Therefore, title companies can often rely on a “Lack of Probate” process allowing the heirs and devisees to convey the real property of the decedent without probate. However, there are times when probate may be necessary due to complicated estate plans or the unavailability of heirs or devisees. In those circumstances, your title company Will work with the personal representative appointed in the probate to convey any real property.

2. Proceeds from retirement, bank account, or life insurance account with transfer on death provisions can be administered without having to go through probate.

• Consider filing a Transfer on Death Deed (TODD) for your home to avoid the probate process or having your home involved in a probate case. A new law in Washington created in 2014 now allows for this type of deed to be recorded. This deed can be filed anytime and can be revoked at any time prior to death. This would allow for the immediate liquidation or transfer of the home by beneficiaries, without having to go through probate. 

3. Assets placed in a revocable trust Will also avoid the probate process as they have already been transferred to the trust which names specific beneficiaries. There may be tax implications of transferring an asset so talk to your accountant before taking action.

4. As of 2023, estates that are worth $2.193 million Will not be subject to Washington State taxes and estates worth less than $25.84 Million for a joint couple or $12.92 Million if single Will not be subject to Federal Estate taxes."

Extracted from an article by Richard Symmes | Apr 30, 2018 | Estate Planning & Probate

Consult an attorney to learn how probate and inheritance taxes would impact your estate.