Wills & Probate


Wills-Probate-Everett-WashingtonWills & Probate

Wills and trusts are legal documents that direct how one person wants their estate to be distributed upon their death. A power of Attorney is a legal document that grants to another person the legal authority to act on behalf of another. A guardianship is a legal procedure to grant legal authority over an incapacitated person. Gregory L. Davies has been assisting parties in the preparation of Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney and Guardianships since 1980. If  you are considering having your Will, Trust or Power of Attorney prepared or a Guardianship established please contact our office and set up an appointment to discuss your matter with Mr. Davies. Our phone number is 425-259-2755. Or email us


Wills, Trusts, Physician's Directive (Living Will), Power of Attorney, Guardianship

Wills are the documents or instruments that set out the written instructions for the orderly distribution of a persons property or estate upon their passing. Trusts are another legal means to achieve the same result. The use of a trust might be dictated by the size of a persons estate to avoid or minimize state inheritance or federal estate taxes. A Living Will or Physician's Directive is a legal documents that sets out your wishes regarding the use of extra ordinary medical procedures to maintain life.

A Power of Attorney is a legal document in which one party give another party the legal authority to act on their behalf when that grantor become incapacitated and can no longer make decisions for themselves. A Guardianship is a legal action in which a party asks the court to appoint a guardian to take care of and/or make decisions for a party that cannot take care of themselves or make decisions for themselves. A power of Attorney and a guardianship are similar except a power of Attorney is given by a person while they are competent and a guardianship may be provided for after a person is incompetent and may not be able to care for themselves. Our fees vary depending on which need you may have. Please give our office a call to set up an appointment to discuss these issues and to get a quote on our fees.



Thank you for your interest in our office and our legal services. It is our goal to provide you with professional and efficient legal services. In order to make you more fully aware of the future course of your probate proceeding it is important that you have full and complete information regarding the process through which your case will continue until its final conclusion.

Disclaimer: The following overview of the probate process is intended for information only and is not intended as a substitute for meeting personally with Gregory L. Davies and getting legal advice regarding your specific matter. 

Please visit our website at www.gregorydavieslaw.com for more information about our office and the legal services we provide. When visiting our website please like us on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook icon on our website home page, lower right hand corner. 


A probate proceeding can be complex and confusing. Whether you decide to process your probate yourself or hire our office to work with you, there is no substitute for proper legal advice to ensure your probate is properly prepared, filed, negotiated, and finalized.

What is a probate?
A probate is a legal proceeding regarding the orderly transfer of real and personal property of a person who has died to the decedent’s beneficiaries and heirs. The transfer of assets is either in accordance with a decedent’s validly executed Will or, if there is no validly executed Will, then in accordance with the intestate succession statutes of Washington State.  

What is real property?
Buildings affixed to land and land.

What is personal property?
Everything that is not real property.

What are Non-Probate Assets?
"Non-probate asset" means those rights and interests of a person having ownership of an asset that passes on the person's death under a written instrument or arrangement other than the person's Will. "Non-probate asset" includes, but is not limited to, a right or interest passing under a joint tenancy with right of survivorship, a joint bank account with right of survivorship, a transfer on death deed, payable on death or trust bank account, transfer on death security or security account, deed or conveyance if possession has been postponed until the death of the person, a trust of which the person is grantor and that becomes effective or irrevocable only upon the person's death, a community property agreement, an individual retirement account or bond, or a note or other contract the payment or performance of which is affected by the death of the person.

"Non-probate asset" does not include: A payable-on-death provision of a life insurance policy, annuity, or other similar contract, or an employee benefit plan; a right or interest passing by descent and distribution where there is no Will; a right or interest if, before death, the person has irrevocably transferred the right or interest, the person has waived the power to transfer it or, in the case of a contractual arrangement, the person has waived the unilateral right to rescind or modify the arrangement; or a right or interest held by the person solely in a fiduciary capacity.  

What is a Personal Representative?
A personal representative is the person approved by the court to administer the decedent’s estate and ensure the estate assets are distributed or transferred to the decedent’s beneficiaries and heirs. 

Non-Court Procedure for Estates Consisting of Personal Property Only Valued less than $100,000
A Small Estate Affidavit may be used to claim personal property of a deceased person valued less than $100,000 by a person claiming to be an heir or beneficiary of the decedent. A certified copy of a death certificate and the Small Estate Affidavit  may be presented at any time after forty days from the date of a decedent's death to any person who is indebted to or who has possession of any personal property belonging to the decedent. 

How to Start a Probate with the Court:
A proceeding to probate a deceased person’s estate is begun by the filing of a petition and the original of the deceased’s Will, if there is one, along with a certified copy of the Death Certificate with the court.  

Current Filing Fee for a Probate:
The filing fee currently charged by the Snohomish County Superior Court Clerk is $240.00.

Authority to Act on Behalf of and for the Deceased’s Estate
With a Will – Letters Testamentary:
Upon the presentation of a Petition, Original Will and a certified copy of a Death Certificate and provided the Will names the petitioner (the person filing the probate) as Personal Representative, is “self-proving” (most Wills are self-proving) and has provisions for “non-intervention powers,” and waives the requirement for a bond, the court will direct the Court Clerk to issue  Letters Testamentary (see definition below).

Without a Will – Letters of Administration:
Upon the presentation of a Petition and a certified copy of a Death Certificate and the petitioner is  the surviving spouse or state registered domestic partner, or such person as he or she may request to have appointed; or the next of kin in the following order: (a) Child or children; (b) father or mother; (c) brothers or sisters; (d) grandchildren; (e) nephews or nieces, and asking to be appointed the personal representative of the estate, the court will direct the Court Clerk to issues  Letters of Administration (see definition below).

Before letters testamentary or of administration are issued, each personal representative or an officer of a bank or trust company qualified to act as a personal representative, must take and sign an oath before some person authorized to administer oaths, that the duties of the trust as personal representative will be performed according to law. The oath must be filed with the Clerk of the Court.

A Bond may also be required.
When the terms of the decedent's Will state an intent that the personal representative appointed to administer the estate shall not be required to furnish bond or other security, or when the personal representative is the surviving spouse or surviving domestic partner of the decedent and it appears to the court that the entire estate, after provision for expenses and claims of creditors, will be distributable to such spouse or surviving domestic partner, then such personal representative shall not be required to give a bond or other security as a condition of appointment. In all cases where a bank or trust company authorized to act as personal representative is appointed as personal representative, no bond shall be required. In all other cases, unless waived by the court, the personal representative shall provide a bond or other security, in such amount and with such surety or sureties, as the court may direct.

Every person required to furnish a bond must, before receiving letters testamentary or of administration, execute a bond to the State of Washington that the personal representative shall faithfully execute the duty of the trust according to law.

What are Letters Testamentary (Will) and Letters of Administration (No-Will)?
As Decedent's Personal Representative, your Letters evidence your official grant of authority.  Chances are that when you deal with a third party on behalf of the estate, the third party (eg, a bank or brokerage) may want to see and possibly keep for its records, a copy of your Letters and may require additional evidence of your authority

What are the Duties of a Personal Representative?
It shall be the duty of every personal representative to settle the estate, including the administration of any non-probate assets within control of the personal representative quickly as possible, without sacrifice to the probate or non-probate estate. The personal representative shall collect all debts due the deceased and pay all debts as hereinafter provided. The personal representative shall be authorized to take such actions as pertain to the management and settlement of the estate, and may collect any debts due the estate or to recover any property, real or personal. 

If at any time you have questions about your duties and obligations, please do not hesitate to contact our office to schedule an appointment. 

A personal representative is considered to be an officer of the court and he or she stands in a fiduciary relationship to those beneficially interested in the estate (ie. the heirs of the estate). Therefore, the personal representative is obligated to exercise the utmost good faith and to utilize the skill, judgment, and diligence that an ordinarily cautious and prudent person would employ in the management of his or her own affairs. The personal representative stands liable for any breach of his or her responsibility that causes loss to another person.
Specifically, included within the general duties of the personal representative are the specific duties of:
    (A) collecting debts of the estate
    (B) pay valid debts of the estate
    (C) prosecuting actions necessary to manage and settle the estate
    (D)  preparing an inventory and appraisement per RCW 11.44.015(1)
    (E) taking all actions reasonably necessary to preserve the estate assets during administration, and of distributing the estate to those entitled to           receive it.
Nonintervention Powers of Personal Representative
Additionally, the court has also granted you nonintervention powers which authorize you to
    (A) borrow money on the general credit of the estate
    (B) mortgage or encumber the assets of the estate
    (C)  lease, sell or exchange the assets of the estate
    (D) convey the assets of the estate
    (E) take any action that a trustee may take under RCW 11.98.070 (powers of the trustee),  RCW 11.100 (investment of trust funds), and RCW            11.102 (investment in common trust funds).
Before you consider doing any of the above it is advisable you contact our office to discuss the same before you take any steps especially in light of your fiduciary duties to the heirs of the estate.
Assets of the Estate
One of the primary duties of the personal representative is to discover what assets they decedent owned at the time of his or her death, and to gather and gain control over those assets so that they may be protected for the estates beneficiaries. An inventory worksheet to assist you is attached.
Notices & Other Duties of a Personal Representative
Notify all who have the right to know about the decedent’s death, including:  
    (A) Publish Notice to Creditors that are unknown must be done upon appointment of personal representative.
    (B) Mail Notice to Creditors to DSHS must be done upon appointment of personal representative.
    (C) Mail Notice to Creditors to known creditors must be done upon appointment of personal representative.
    (D) Serve/mail and file Notice of Appointment of Personal Representative/pendency of probate/administration to heirs and beneficiaries must               be done within 20 days of appointment of personal representative.
    (E) Notice to IRS: Obtain estate tax identification number (IRS Form 56) if tax reporting will be required.
    (F) Send Notice of Appointment to the Washington Department of Revenue  
    (G) Prepare Inventory and Appraisement within 90 days after appointment of personal representative. RCW 11.44.015(1) attached sets out the           requirements in general contents for the inventory and appraisement.
    (H) Mail copy of inventory/appraisement to interested parties requesting it within 10 days of receipt of request.
     (I) Check court docket for filing of Creditors Claims of unknown creditors four months after the publication of Notice to Creditors
    (J) Pay valid creditors claims prior to closing estate (see Creditors Claims below)
    (K) File any and all tax returns within nine months after decedent’s date of death
          • File decedent’s final Form 1040, Individual Income Tax Return;
          • File a Form 1041, the estate’s income tax return, if due; and
          • File state and federal estate taxes, if due.
    (L) Develop plan for final distribution of the estate assets to beneficiaries and obtain receipts and waivers of notice of hearing on declaration of            hearing and file receipts with the court.
    (M) File Declaration of Completion after all matters pertaining to the estate are completed
    (N) Mail and file notice of filing a Declaration of Completion
    (O) File with the court Proof of Mailing of Notice of Filing Declaration of Completion
Creditors Claims
The personal representative must allow or reject all claims properly filed against the estate. Normally, if a Notice to Creditors has been published, this means that the claim must be filed within the latter of four months after the date of first publication or 30 days after providing actual notice to the creditor.
If a creditor is one which was “reasonably ascertainable” but was not provided with actual notice by the personal representative, then the creditor has up to 24 months after the date of decedent’s death in which to file a claim.

The threshold question responding to a creditors claim is whether or not the claim arose out of a debt incurred prior to the death of the decedent.
Assuming the four-month bar applies to the claimant question, examine the claim to determine:
   (1) Whether in your judgment and that of the personal representative, the claim is legitimate;
   (2) The imeliness of the claim;
   (3) Whether the claim is filed with the court (as required) , or simply mailed to you your attorney; and
   (4) The size of the claim. Claims less than $1000 require prompt action. Claims of the thousand dollars or less are deemed allowed unless                  rejected within the latter of six months from the date of first publication or two months from the receipt of the claim by the personal                          representative.
Claims in excess of the thousand dollars have no time line for action. However, if a larger claim is not allowed rejected within the latter of four months the date of first publication or 30 days from the presentation of the claim, then the claimant may petition the court for allowance or rejection and, if successful, may obtain attorneys fees for bringing the action.
If the personal representative rejects the claim, then the claimant has 30 days after notice of rejection (given by personal service or certified mail) to bring suit. If the claimant fails to do so for good reason, the claim is barred.   
Federal and State Estate Taxes

The estate tax is a tax on the right to transfer property at the time of death based on the actual value or fair market value of the property on the date of death. The current federal estate tax exclusion for a single individual is $5.34 million, minus gifts you have given during your lifetime. The current Washington State estate tax exclusion for a single individual is $2,012,000.

There is no tax if the value of the property is below the exclusions amounts.

Closing/Finalizing the Estate:
In many cases a Personal Representative who has fully administered and settled an estate will file with the court and mail to all heirs of the estate a copy of a Notice and Declaration of Completion stating the estate has been fully administered, settled and distributed to the heirs. Any heir objecting to the Notice and Declaration must file an objection within thirty (30) days of the filing the Declaration of Completion. 

To close the estate, include the steps below:
    • Transfer title of the assets or pay the beneficiaries according to the Will or the laws of intestacy;
    • Get receipts and waivers from those who are receiving an asset;
    • Get Closing Letters from the IRS and Department of Revenue for any estate taxes paid (high value estates only); and
    • File the Declaration of Completion with the court.
If you have any questions about your duties or need any assistance administering the estate, please contact our office so we can assist you in the proper and timely fulfillment of your duties as a personal representative.

Any objections to the administration, settlement and distribution of an estate will require a court hearing and approval to finalize and close the estate.

Attorney’s Fees and Costs

Our attorney’s fees are based on an hourly rate along with an estimate of the amount of time we believe it will take to finalize your probate. Our current fees are listed on our website in “Services” under “Fees.” Probate cases that are resolved by agreement or settlement will cost less than ones that are contested and must be resolved by the court or arbitrator. 

Note to Do-It-Yourselfers:

If you choose to do your own probate, we always recommend you have our office review your paperwork before you file it with the court. We do charge a minimal fee for this review or any other services you request. We also encourage you to consult with our office during the probate process as you feel the need. If, at any time, you feel overwhelmed with the probate process and doing it yourself we will be ready to take over your representation.

Our office keeps itemized billing records that are created at the same time as specific services provided for your case. This itemized billing statement is provided to you at the end of each month. You should review this billing statement carefully as it is not only a record of our time and charges for your case but also a record of our services provided.

Our office also prepares a written attorney fee agreement for each case. The agreement is signed by you and Gregory L. Davies. The original is kept in our client file and a copy is provided to you.
Thank you for your interest in our office and our legal services.  If you have any questions concerning your probate (or any other legal matter), whether you hire our office work with you or you are processing your probate case yourself, please contact our office to set up an appointment to meet with Gregory L. Davies.  

To find our find out more about how our law firm can help you with your probate needs, contact Gregory L. Davies, Attorney at Law, in Everett, Washington. Call (425) 259-2755 or email us


3721 Colby Avenue Everett, WA 98201