1. File the Will With the Court
In Washington State, the executor of the Will must file it with the court within thirty days of death. They should also provide a copy to all beneficiaries listed in the Will.
2. Appoint a Personal Representative
The personal representative is usually the executor of the Will, and their job is to manage all estate matters, including managing assets and liabilities. They will also be responsible for filing documents with the court throughout the probate process.
3. Notify Creditors and Other Parties of the Death
This involves sending letters to all creditors informing them of the decedent’s death and providing a copy of the Will. This step is important to ensure that creditors do not mistakenly attempt to collect money from an estate after it has already been distributed.
4. Collect Assets and Manage Estate Finances
The personal representative will need to collect the decedent’s assets, such as bank accounts, real estate, and investments. They will also be responsible for managing any income generated by the estate during probate proceedings.
5. Pay Taxes, Debts, and Liabilities
The personal representative will need to pay any taxes, debts, and liabilities owed by the estate. This includes any federal and state income taxes due as well as any unpaid medical bills, credit cards, or other loans.
6. Identify Heirs and Beneficiaries
The personal representative must identify all of the heirs and beneficiaries listed on the Will. This includes family members, close friends, or charities.
7. Inventory Estate Property and Accounts
The personal representative must make a thorough inventory of all estate property and accounts. This includes bank accounts, investments, real estate, and any other assets owned by the decedent.
8. Distribute Assets to Heirs/Beneficiaries
The personal representative will need to distribute the estate’s assets according to the terms of the Will. This includes distributing any cash and investments, as well as real estate, to the proper parties.
9. Close Out the Estate/File the Final Accounting Report
The personal representative must file a final accounting report with the court. This report outlines all of the estate’s assets, debts, and liabilities and provides proof that they have been properly handled. Once this is done, the court will issue a final order closing out the estate. At this point, all assets can be distributed to their rightful heirs.