Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Many people enter into the world of estate planning with a preconceived notion that probate is bad. While this may be true in some states, the probate process may be very beneficial.
Probate is the legal process by which a will is deemed authentic and valid. A personal representative is appointed by the court and begins the process of transferring and selling assets in accordance with a will’s instructions.
Although probate can be a long and costly process in some states (i.e., California), states such as Washington have created one of the most efficient and least expensive probate systems in the country. This has been made possible by a streamlined appointment process for a personal representative where a solvent estate can have its personal representative appointed by mailing a series of short pleadings to the judge for review and signature without a court hearing. Furthermore, a personal representative is given non-intervention powers once appointed. This allows the personal representative to administer all of the affairs of the estate without any court intervention so long as the estate is solvent.
These powers substantially reduce the administrative costs on the estate by potentially eliminating the need for court hearings. The probate process also provides personal representatives with important tools to help limit and manage creditors’ influence on the estate.
See Bryce Mackay, Probate Has Its Advantages, The Wenatchee World, July 6, 2014.