How to Probate a Small Estate in Washington
Small Estate Limits for Washington
In Washington, you can use an Affidavit if the value of assets subject to probate, less liens and encumbrances, is $100,000 or less. This figure doesn't count surviving spouse's property or partner's community property interest. 40-day waiting period.
Wash. Rev. Code 11.62.010 and following.
The court may grant a request for settlement without court intervention if the estate is solvent and:
- if there's a Will, the personal representative makes a request
- if there's no Will, the surviving spouse or domestic partner makes the request, and the estate consists entirely of community property, and the decedent let no children or grandchildren from another relationship, or
- the personal representative is not a creditor of the decedent and the court determines it would be in the best interest of the beneficiaries and creditors.
Wash. Rev. Code 11.68.011 and following.
What's Included in valuing the estate?
Not everything a person owns is part of their "Estate" for probate purposes.
If you're wrapping up the estate of a Washington resident who died with an estate that's worth less than a certain dollar amount, you won't have to go through a formal probate court proceeding.
It doesn't matter whether or not the deceased person left a will; what matters is the value of the assets left behind. If the estate's value is under the "small estates" limit in Washington, you can take advantage of a simplified probate procedure, often called a "summary probate." Instead of having a court hearing in front of a judge, you may need only to file a simple form or two and wait for a certain amount of time before distributing the assets.
In some states, it can be even easier: Inheritors can use a simple affidavit to claim assets. (An affidavit is a statement you sign in front of a notary, swearing something is true.) If you live in one of those states, you just have to wait a required period of time, then sign a simple, sworn statement that no probate proceeding is happening in your state and that you are the person entitled to inherit a particular asset--a bank account, for example.
Adding it up, what's in, what's not
When you are trying to determine whether or not an estate's value is below the Washington small estates limit, the first thing to do is make a list of the assets. A simple spreadsheet or list will do.
Not everything a person owns counts, though.
Include only the things that pass to heirs and beneficiaries by will or, if there's no will, by Washington intestacy laws, which determine who inherits if there is no will.