Guiding you through a difficult process at a difficult time.
When you lose a family member, you may go through all or some of the “five stages of grief,” which include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Then there are all the things that need to be attended to after the funeral: the administration of the estate. Estate administration is the process of managing the estate (all the money and property owned by the person who has passed away), including gathering the assets, paying off outstanding debts, and distributing the remaining assets.
Even a relatively small estate may include checking and savings accounts, vehicles, retirement accounts, investments, and real estate, such as a home. And even after death, mortgages, credit card, utilities, and hospital or doctor bills still need to be paid, and taxes must be settled. Whether you are the personal representative designated by the deceased to manage the process or need help when your loved one left no Will, Spokane County estate administration attorney Katharine Tate can help ensure that the process is completed accurately and in a timely manner to help avoid legal complications down the line.
How we help.
For a family member who is named as the personal representative (also called executor) of an estate or for those who are left to deal with the estate of a relative who died intestate (without a will), the prospect of going through probate can be both perplexing and maybe even a bit frightening. Probate is not punitive, it is simply a judicial oversight of the administration of the estate. The Spokane County court gives a concise description of what probate is: “After someone dies, their money and property (called the estate) must be distributed to their heirs. When supervised by the courts, this process is called probate. Probate is not always necessary, but in some situations, probate may be required.”
If an estate plan was in place, especially if it included a trust, probate may be avoided altogether. Likewise, if an estate is worth less than $100,000 or does not include real estate, probate is likely not necessary.
Our estate administration attorney ensures a smooth and timely distribution of assets by presenting evidence for validation by the courts, complying with state laws, and helping lift the burden off the shoulders of the personal representative or family member by:
- Determining if there are any potential issues, such as property no longer owned by the estate or that are encumbered by debt;
- Gathering and invoicing assets;
- Providing notice to creditors;
- Settling debts, bills, and taxes; and
- Distributing remaining assets to beneficiaries.
We provide skilled legal guidance in several areas of estate administration, including:
- Formal probate: This occurs when the court plays an active role in settling an estate. This most often occurs when a Will is missing or where the deceased did not have a Will.
- Summary probate (Small Estate): When the estate is small ($100,000 or less) and there is no real estate involved, there is a simplified process that allows the use of a small estate affidavit. Our attorney can help you determine if this is in your best interest.
- Trust administration: We provide guidance to trustees to help ensure that they are within legal and fiduciary compliance.
Our attorney offers compassionate, skilled counsel throughout the estate administration process.
To schedule a consultation to discuss your situation and your needs, please contact us online or call our office at (509) 994-1599. We are located in Liberty Lake and serve clients throughout Spokane County and surrounding areas.