Washington State residents have options to leave assets and properties to heirs without requiring probate. As reported by the American Bar Association, the beneficiaries of life insurance policies and retirement plans do not require probate to receive the proceeds.
A beneficiary may also own real estate jointly with another individual. When a property’s deed lists both names as joint owners with the right of survivorship, the asset passes to the surviving owner when the other one dies.
Adding individuals to financial accounts
Bank and stock brokerage accounts may offer individuals the option to add a joint owner. With right of survivorship, the assets pass on to the survivor when one account owner dies. Depending on the bank, account owners may name a payable-on-death beneficiary to receive its contents.
GoBankingRates.com notes that failing to add beneficiaries may result in the contents becoming part of the deceased’s estate. These assets may then require going through the probate court. Naming minors as payable-on-death beneficiaries may also result in the contents becoming part of the deceased’s estate and require probate.
Going through probate court in Washington State
When an individual dies without a will, the probate court may distribute the assets and property. As noted on the Washington State Legislature’s website, the surviving spouse or registered domestic partner inherits all of the deceased’s net community assets.
This net portion may include the cash remaining after the probate court settles the deceased’s final debts and taxes. With children, however, a surviving spouse may split the deceased’s separate property with them.
Heirs could bypass probate with assets and properties left to them as payable-on-death beneficiaries or through a right of survivorship arrangement. If other assets remain, the probate court may distribute them to a surviving spouse and children based on Washington’s intestate succession statutes.