In Washougal, Washington "probate" refers to the process a court uses to determine whether or not a will is legitimate, thereby deciding if it should be given effect.
During probate, the court in Washougal, Washington will decide the validity of the will, determine and inventory the decedent's assets, account for the decedent's debts and back taxes, and distribute the decedent's property, among other things.
Wills usually name the person who is to serve as executor of the estate. If no executor is named, the Washougal, Washington court will appoint an executor. This is usually the person who stands to gain the most if the will is found to be legitimate.
The executor is the person who has to get the ball rolling on the probate process, and basically serves as a living personification of the decedent's estate. It is their job to defend the estate from debtors (if a legitimate defense for the debt exists, of course), and wind up any legal proceedings that the decedent might have been involved in. If an executor needs to be appointed, a court usually chooses the person who will inherit the most if the will is given effect, since that person will have the most reason to carry out the duties of the executor.
Duties of the Executor in Washougal, Washington
Executors of estates have a several distinct responsibilities. First, the executor must start the probate proceedings. Probate almost always needs to be done before the property in an estate can be released according to the terms of the will.
The executor also has to provide those with a direct interest in the will notice that the decedent has deceased, by filing an official death certificate.
If the decedent was even slightly well-off financially, it's likely that they'll have significant amounts of both debts and assets. The executor is tasked with creating an accurate accounting of the debts and assets of the estate, so as much of the decedent's debts can be paid off as possible.
Furthermore, the executor is obligated to take the lead in proving the validity of the will, effectively acting as the living embodiment of the decedent's estate. The executor is usually the person who will inherit the most once the will goes through probate, so they have a good reason to put in the work to do this.
How Can A Washougal, Washington Lawyer Help?
Because this process can be fairly perplexing, it is not a bad idea to consult with a reputable probate lawyer in Washougal, Washington, especially if you find yourself as the executor of an estate and don't know how to proceed.