Knowledgeable Kennewick Probate Attorneys

Probate is the process of determining if a will is valid as well as officially giving authority to the designated executors to carry out the deceased’s instructions.

Hames, Anderson, Whitlow & O’Leary, P.S., are Kennewick probate lawyers you can trust and are committed to aggressive and efficient representation of clients in all legal matters.

For a no-obligation consultation:

Call Now at 509-586-7797

The Roles of a Probate Attorney

The main role of a probate lawyer is to ensure that the process of estate administration is conducted in a timely manner and in such a way that financial penalties are minimized if not completely avoided. When the personal representative files the will with the probate court, the lawyer will be of great help in gathering and preparing accurate and proper documents to be filed in court.

In addition, probate attorneys will typically help in preparation of wills and testaments. The clients and the lawyer will sit down and discuss how the will is going to be prepared. They will discuss the kind of property that needs to be included in the will and the proper execution of the will.

The probate lawyer will also ensure that the signature requirements, when executing a will, are strictly followed. The attorney should ensure that the person appending his/her signature is mentally competent to sign this document and that all state laws are met.

In other cases, a probate attorney will assist in the administration of an estate. The lawyer will assist in the process of administering a deceased person’s estate to the respective heirs. The lawyer will ensure that all the paperwork that needs to be completed is done properly and that there is a smooth transition of property from the deceased to the heirs.

Hiring a Probate Attorney in Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick

You should interview a couple of probate attorneys well in advance before going in to probate. Most probate attorneys charge an hourly rate for these services. Look for probate attorneys with experience, expertise and a good reputation.

Remember: there is no substitute for experience. These matters are legally complex, and you deserve lawyers who already know what they’re doing. As veterans of Washington probate law, the attorneys at Hames, Anderson, Whitlow & O’Leary, P.S are ready for the unexpected when it comes — and in probate law, it’s best to expect the unexpected.

Is It Possible to Avoid Probate?

If you are in the process of creating a Will and/or Estate Plan, you can take steps now to protect your family from having to endure the often-frustrating process of probate after you pass away. Our estate planning office can help you create the necessary documents (including, in most cases, at least one revocable trust). We suggest you take action toward that goal as soon as possible.

If, however, you are an executor, personal representative, or beneficiary of someone who has already passed away, you might have no option other than to go through probate. Working with an experienced attorney from the beginning can help to make that process smoother, faster, less contentious, and more cost-effective.

How Much Does a Probate Lawyer Cost?

The cost of probate varies according to:

  • The complexity of the estate
  • Whether the deceased left a comprehensive estate plan behind
  • Whether anyone wishes to challenge the Will
  • The duration of the probate procedure

Unlike many other states, in Washington, probate attorneys’ fees cannot be set as a percentage of the estate’s overall value. As a result, the total cost of a probate lawyer is often less here than in other states.

Do I Have to Hire a Probate Lawyer in Washington?

While Washington law doesn’t require the executor or personal representative to hire a lawyer for probate, it is almost always in your best interest to do so.

As executor, you have a series of important and complicated legal duties, and you might be held liable for any errors you make. Additionally, unintentional mistakes can create undue delay, drain the estate of funds, and cause discord in the family.   

An experienced Tri-Cities probate attorney can help you:

  • Initiate probate
  • Provide notice to relevant parties as required by law
  • Identify and notify the state’s potential creditors and other interested parties
  • Notify the appropriate governmental organizations
  • Inventory the estate and prepare an appraisal
  • Manage and distribute assets
  • Keep up with court hearings and orders
  • Avoid critical errors
  • Settle disagreements before they erupt into full-blow legal disputes
  • Prepare the estate’s tax return and satisfy its various taxation obligations
  • Comply with all your legal duties as executor / personal representative

Does It Have to Be the Same Lawyer Who Prepared the Will?

No. While families do often turn to the same attorney or law firm that oversaw the creation of the Will or Estate Plan, there is nothing in the law that prohibits you from using a different attorney. In fact, in some cases, the original attorney may no longer be available or even alive. In other cases there might be another reason the personal representative isn’t comfortable hiring the same attorney.

The important thing is that the lawyer be experienced, free from conflicts of interest, and committed to resolving probate in a timely and cost-effective manner.

What if There Is No Will?

The first step is to ensure there is, in fact, no Will. Children and relatives aren’t always aware that their loved one prepared a Will or Estate Plan, and we can employ certain measures to find out.

If you believe there was a Will at one time but no one can find it, Washington law will presume that the deceased destroyed it. (We can challenge that presumption in some cases, but it isn’t always worth it – given the cost of the challenge relative to the value of the estate.)

In the absence of a will, the estate will be distributed according to a default set of rules known as intestate succession. Intestate succession still goes through probate, where the default rules act as a substitute for the Will. Unfortunately, the rules of intestate succession are strict and rigid. They rarely produce a result that everyone is happy with. If you aren’t sure about how the estate in your family will proceed, we encourage you to reach out to our office and ask.

How Can I Get a Better Idea of How My Specific Probate Case Will Unfold?

No two estates are quite alike, so probate never looks the same for any two families. If you currently have an interest in the outcome of a probate proceeding, or if you’ve been charged with the responsibility of serving as an executor or personal representative, the feeling of uncertainty can seem overwhelming.

While we’ve offered some general guidelines and useful information on this page, for specific questions related to the estate in your situation, we invite you to stop by our office, contact us online, or give us a call. While we can’t make guarantees about the outcome (nor can anyone else), we can help you get a clearer idea of what to expect in the weeks ahead.

Talk to an Experienced Tri-Cities Probate Attorney Today

At Hames, Anderson, Whitlow & O’Leary, P.S., we’re here to help! We are committed to providing quality probate services. All of our clients receive personal attention from our lawyers and from our experienced and dedicated staff. We strive to represent each client in a way that will match their goals and resources.

For a no-obligation consultation:

Call Now at 509-586-7797

We are Kennewick probate lawyers that practice in all courts and before most agencies in the states of Washington and Oregon including Richland, Pasco, Kennewick, Hermiston, Benton City, Prosser, Grandview, Sunnyside, Finley, Burbank, Walla Walla, Desert Aire, Mattawa, and Othello.