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Common probate problems in Washington

On Behalf of | Oct 2, 2023 | Estate Administration & Probate, Estate Planning |

There are plenty of possible problems that an executor could come across during probate. These issues often pertain to the distribution of the estate. You may come across unexpected delays depending on the factors of the decedent’s estate and the cooperativeness of the people involved.

Invalid wills

If the testator makes a mistake in creating or signing their will, then a judge may find that it’s invalid. A beneficiary could raise concerns that the testator signed the will under duress. If they are able to prove this, then the will or parts of it may become invalid.

Breach of fiduciary duty

Executors owe a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries. They must follow probate and estate administration laws to correctly carry out their duties. The court could hold them legally responsible for financial losses that creditors or beneficiaries of the estate sustain because of their mistakes. Washington has deadlines and other rules for each step of the probate process.

Difficulty finding beneficiaries

It’s not always easy for the executor to find beneficiaries. They need to locate them to inform them of the probate proceedings. Testators may want to include updated contact information for their beneficiaries as well as where all assets are to make estate administration easier on the executor.

Eligible surviving family claims

A surviving spouse, domestic partner or child of the testator might petition the court for making a claim on the estate. The court will make a decision on what part of the estate and how much the eligible family member will receive.

Will interpretations

If a provision in the will isn’t clear, then the beneficiaries may raise the issue with the court. This problem is more common in wills that weren’t created with the help of a lawyer.

Tenants in rental properties

If there are tenants who need to move out of a rental property, then this sometimes causes conflict and delays the probate process. The law also requires giving tenants advance notice so that they have time to find a new home. If they are on a long-term lease that protects them, there may be a wait before you can sell or distribute the property.

You may want to handle your estate administration duties as quickly as possible to make time for potential probate problems. This could reduce your stress levels if you come across an issue that causes a delay.