Cogdill Nichols Rein Wartelle Andrews (CNRWA), our Everett law firm, provides advice and a variety of probate services for clients in Washington. We can help you probate a will and administer the estate of a loved one.
Contact our law office by email or call 425-259-6111 to obtain effective legal counsel. Our Washington attorneys will take the time to analyze your situation and explain your best options to you.
Qualified Assistance Through The Probate Process
Many people have a negative opinion of probate. Our attorneys can streamline the process, making all of the complicated parts as simple as possible for you. We will guide you through each probate step, including:
- Admitting a will to probate
- Receiving a court order appointing a personal representative
- Gathering the assets of the estate
- Paying the debts and obligations of the estate
- Distributing assets according to the intentions expressed in the will
At CNRWA, we also have the knowledge required to avoid probate. We work with you to get the estate's assets to the correct beneficiaries as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Types Of Probate Disputes We Typically Handle
Whether you are a beneficiary attempting to challenge the distribution of your loved one's property or need to defend a contested will, we can help. Our Everett lawyers have an understanding of many probate disputes involving:
Some stakeholders in an estate will disagree about how various assets are valued and whether or not they should be sold or retained in the administration process. For example, if beneficiaries each share ownership of vacation property, one may want to sell the property and distribute the funds while the other may want to retain ownership. Disagreements about how much one party should pay/sell his or her portion of the property for may result in an asset valuation dispute.
Lack Of Capacity
The validity of a will or other estate planning documents can be questioned when the testator's capacity for responsible decision-making is called into question. For example, a deceased individual's child may be concerned that the will was drafted under coercion from another party who then convinced the deceased to write him or her into the estate planning documents. If the testator is still alive, there may be disagreements about whether he or she is capable of making estate planning decisions when drafting wills and trusts or appointing personal representatives.
Breach Of Fiduciary Duty
An estate executor (also sometimes known as an estate administrator or personal representative) is expected to act in the best interest of the estate and its beneficiaries. This is true even if he or she is a beneficiary as well. In cases where the administrator is suspected of acting unfairly or not upholding his or her legal responsibilities, a breach of fiduciary duty claim may arise. This can leave the administrator subject to investigation and potentially facing financial losses if found to be acting unlawfully.
The individual(s) chosen to care for minor children or physically or mentally impaired adults take on significant responsibilities. In many cases, these are responsibilities they want to take over. In others, a guardianship may involve unexpected challenges that they are not prepared to handle. The subject of a guardianship (the individual whose capacity for making medical or financial decisions) may also dispute the need for a guardian. These kinds of disagreements can give rise to a probate dispute that requires more involved legal action.
Third-Party Claims Against Estates
When an individual has passed away, he or she often leaves behind assets as well as debts or obligations to creditors/business institutions. If those obligations are significant, and cannot be covered by the estate's assets during the estate administration or probate process, a legal dispute may arise. It becomes the estate executor's responsibility to resolve these disputes and fulfill the estate's obligation to creditors while doing his or her best to protect assets and the interests of beneficiaries.
Our probate litigation attorneys know how to assess the strengths and weaknesses of claims, and we can even work with you to find intelligent resolutions to disputes prior to going to trial.
If you would like to discuss your probate or estate administration concerns with one of our Snohomish County lawyers, please contact our office.