Question: How Do I Avoid Probate?
Answer: Clients frequently ask how they can avoid probate, and my usual response is to determine first whether they really need to avoid probate. In almost every case, the answer is "No." Both Washington and Idaho have "unsupervised" probates, meaning that no court oversees the probate process and the executor is free to administer the estate and settle its affairs. Depending upon the circumstances, dealing with a decedent's estate can be quick and painless, or it can sometimes be a long, complicated process, but in the latter event probate is never to blame.
Estate planning is all about doing what is right for the family, and sometimes there are difficult issues which need to be resolved. Fortunately, avoiding probate is not one of them. It is important to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to determine what is most appropriate for your family's particular situation.
Tom Culbertson is an attorney with the law firm of Lukins & Annis where his practice includes estate planning, probate, trusts, estate dispute resolution, closely held businesses and business succession planning.