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Understanding the Probate Process: What It Is and Why You Might Need a Lawyer

Understanding the Probate Process: What It Is and Why You Might Need a Lawyer

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Understanding the Probate Process: What It Is and Why You Might Need a Lawyer

When someone dies, the last thing on their loved ones’ minds is the administration of their decedent’s estate, which is a natural and appropriate reaction. The management of a decedent’s estate is a serious problem. Estate administration can be a complicated and intimidating procedure that should not be put off. In this piece, we will walk you through the probate process, why it is sometimes necessary, what it comprises, and why you may need the assistance of a probate lawyer in Port Orchard to navigate or avoid it.

The probate process, often known as estate administration, relates to the administration of a person’s assets and debts following their death. The types of property that are frequently transferred via Probate are diverse. Vehicles, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, furniture, jewelry, and other sorts of property are commonly involved. The position of a personal representative might vary in complexity depending on the size of a decedent’s estate. Regardless of the amount of one’s estate, the probate procedure is often lengthy, with the average estate taking anything from a few months to over a year to administer.

What exactly is Probate?

Probate is the process that is completed when a decedent leaves assets to distribute, such as bank accounts, real estate, and financial investments. Probate is the general administration of a deceased person’s Will or the estate of a deceased person who died without a will.

An executor is usually named in a will or an administrator if there is no will to complete the probate process. This entails gathering the deceased’s assets to pay any outstanding bills on their estate and distributing them to beneficiaries.

How long does it take?

Probate is the certified copy of the Will that serves as legal proof. The executor affixes a court seal to it, authorizing him to execute or implement the bill. Will Probate gives the will legal weight.

In other words, will probate is a legal process that allows the deceased person’s wealth to be appropriately distributed among his heirs and chosen beneficiaries. It also provides for the repayment of creditors’ debts.

Probate can be obtained after seven days after the testator’s death. The full Probate of Wills process takes at least six to nine months to complete.

What is the requirement of Probate if there is a will?

It is not required to probate a will because there are numerous situations that make probating a will unnecessary in a particular case, although rules vary from state to state. You can always get help from a probate lawyer in Port Orchard. When persons possess any assets in joint names with their children, spouses, or other people, the assets are transferred automatically by operation of law to the surviving owners, and there is no need for a will to be probated in order to distribute the property.

However, a probate is required when the present Will has an issue. Alternatively, the testator outlives the recipients specified in the Probate. When there is no beneficiary listed in the Will or when the deceased testator owns the entire estate.

What is the Procedure for Will Probate?

The will probating procedure is separated into four easy stages:

  • The first step is to apply to the District Judge via a probate petition, which must be signed and validated by or on behalf of the petitioner. 
  • The second step is to file the application with the Court with jurisdiction over the property. A probate attorney in Port Orchard then prepares the application; in some situations, the lower Court may also approve the application.
  • Certain documents, such as a death certificate and other documents, must be submitted to establish the authenticity of the Will. These will demonstrate that the testator has free Will.
  • When the Court gets the application, it double-checks all of the information. Then, it encourages the deceased’s nearest kin to claim the Probate. Finally, it prominently displays the invitation letter to invite any objections. The Probate is issued if the Court does not file an objection within 30 days.

How does the probate process work?

The laws of each state govern what is required to probate an estate. These rules can be found in the state’s “probate codes” and the laws governing “intestate succession,” which apply when someone dies without leaving a will.

Without a will, the Probate is nevertheless required to pay the decedent’s final bills and divide their estate. Regardless of whether a will exists, the stages are quite identical.

The Will of a deceased person must be filed with the probate court as quickly as possible, according to laws in most states. Usually, a petition to begin the estate’s probate process is filed concurrently. Occasionally, the death certificate must be filed in addition to the petition and will.

Filling out and sending the petition doesn’t have to be difficult. Forms are available from many state courts. Everyone involved has the chance to oppose the Will being admitted for Probate during the hearing. For example, the Will may not have been properly formed; a more recent version may be in possession of someone, or the executor appointed in the Will may face opposition.

The Court will send “letters testamentary” to the designated executor. This is a fancy legal way of saying that they will be given the necessary paperwork to act and deal on behalf of the estate. These records are sometimes known as “letters of administration” or “letters of authority.”

In certain states, beneficiaries have the option to unanimously reject the bond requirement; in others, it is an unchangeable condition. This is especially relevant if the executor lives out of state or turns out to be someone other than the person named in the Will.

How to avoid Probate?

Probate is not a bad thing, but the procedure can be costly and time-consuming. Because of this, certain states have streamlined probate procedures that facilitate and expedite the process compared to comprehensive estate administration. 

Probate can also be circumvented or avoided by:

Establishing a live trust.

Probate is not required for property held in a trust. Trust assets, on the other hand, go straight to your beneficiaries. 

Owning your property jointly

In the event that you and another person are designated as joint owners on a deed for a home or other property, the other owner will take over as the sole owner upon your death. This is automatic and doesn’t need to be probed. 

Naming your non-probate assets’ beneficiaries

Certain assets allow you to designate a beneficiary to receive the asset upon your death, such as retirement accounts and life insurance plans. These assets don’t need to go through Probate; they flow straight to your beneficiary. You can always get help from your probate attorney in Port Orchard. 

Establishing a TOD or POD account

Bank or brokerage accounts that allow you to choose a beneficiary to receive the contents of the account upon your death are known as payable-on-death (POD) and transfer-on-death (TOD) accounts. Probate is not required because they transfer straight to your beneficiary.

Giving gifts to close friends and family or to charity organizations while you are still alive is another way to avoid Probate. 

However, it is advised that you consult a probate attorney in Port Orchard before you make a decision. 


If a loved one has died away, the Law Office of A. Scott Kalkwarf can help you with the estate’s Probate, whether or not there is a will or trust. Please get in touch with us if you are the executor, executrix, or administrator of a deceased person’s estate. It is not necessary to feel overburdened. Simply walk in, and we will take the time to review everything with you and guide you step-by-step through your responsibilities and the estate administration process.