Seattle Probate Services
Will Probate Offer
Call (206) 788-7075
for a Free Consultation
We offer fixed fee services to commence and/or complete the probate process when there is a Last Will and Testament and certain other conditions apply. Most probate attorneys offer their services only an hourly rate basis.
The total fixed legal fee will be as low as $2,539, and disbursements for out-of-pocket expenses will be as low as $361, for a total cost of $2,900, under the following fairly common circumstances:
If the decedent left a Last Will and Testament, the original document (not just a photocopy) is available,
and the Will:
(a) is signed by the decedent and at least Two (2) witnesses;
(b) is self-proving, meaning the witnesses signed either before a notary public, or on penalty of perjury;
(c) names an Executor, and the person so named is willing to serve in that role;
(d) states that the executor shall serve with Nonintervention powers (or in other words, without the intervention of the court);
(e) states that the executor shall shall serve without bond;
(f) the net estate is solvent, meaning that the total value of the decedent's assets exceed the total value
of all debts and anticipated estate administration expenses;
(g) there are no minor beneficiaries (persons under 18 years of age entitled to an inheritance); and
(h) address information for all persons named in the Will, as well as address information for all
Legal Heirs (persons who would inherit the decedent's estate under Washington law -- e.g., surviving spouse, children, parents, siblings, grandparents and/or cousins), is known and available,
then the Will can be probated in Court for the following FIXED FEES plus Costs:
Phase 1. Commencing the Probate ($925.00 + Costs of $250 to $280)
If all of the conditions set out above are met, a probate proceeding in Superior Court can be commenced for a fixed fee of $925, plus costs totaling $250 or $280. The costs include $240 for the court filing fee, and $10 for two certified copies of Letters Testamentary, and an additional court fee of $30 for probates submitted through the clerk's office versus being presented in person by an attorney. We prepare all necessary legal papers (and obtain required signatures), and file them. In cases brought in the King, Snohomish or Pierce County, an experienced attorney will appear in court to present the probate petition before a Court Commissioner. For probates brought in other counties, the petition will be submitted to the clerk's office for presentation to a Commissioner, and the extra $30 fee will apply. The Fixed Fee includes up to two hours of consultation (by telephone and/or in-person meeting) with an experienced attorney to discuss specific questions or issues a client may have during the course of the administration of the estate.
The $925 fixed fee is offered under the assumption and with the expectation that the court appointed executor will take full charge of handling various tasks to identify and marshal (obtain possession or otherwise secure) the decedent's assets, identify debts of the estate (undertaking a full and ongoing review of the decedent's papers and mail), deal directly with creditors, inventory and obtain appraised values of the estate's real estate and personal property, open an estate bank account, handle transactions using the account, maintain complete records for the account, have direct contact with estate beneficiaries and address any issues raised by them, distribute estate property, and cooperate with counsel to prepare necessary court documents. In other words, the Executor will not be utilizing the services of our firm to handle these tasks and perform basic duties. However, the $925 fixed fee does not cover any legal services performed in connection with litigation (such as defending a Will contest, or disputing a claim filed by a creditor) or preparing non-court documents, such as a real estate Deed or an assignment of contract rights. The $925 fixed fee does not include any services for the preparation of tax returns for the Decedent or the estate. Being a full service firm, if requested, we can render assistance with legal tasks not included in the fixed fee offer for an additional charge at a $250 hourly rate for attorney services, and a $125 hourly rate of paralegal type services.
Phase 2. Notice to Creditors Procedure: extra $513 fee plus costs (of $117 or more)
This service involves notifying creditors that a probate proceeding is pending, and will serve to cut off collection of a decedent's debts (incurred prior to death) unless creditors serve and file creditor's claims within a limited period (of about 4 months). The extra fixed legal fee is $513, and includes preparation, filing, and arranging for publication in a local newspaper (once a week for three consecutive weeks) of a Probate Notice to Creditors. The publication cost runs from a low of $117 to about $250 or more, depending on the location of the decedent's last residence. The extra legal fee also includes mailing a copy of the notice to all known creditors, and preparing and filing one or more declarations of mailing, and responding to Creditor Claims that are served and filed by creditors (either accepting and/or rejecting, in whole or in part, the claim). This procedure is an important one when the decedent's death occurred less than two (2) years prior to the commencement of the probate proceeding, since creditors can only properly pursue collection within the two year period. The procedure is necessary if the executor wants to identify the level of debts of the estate early on in the probate process, and after determining the level of the debts (if any), can proceed to pay off valid debts (or contest debt that are not valid or otherwise disputable) and then distribute the net estate (the balance after payment of debts) to the beneficiaries named in the Will.
Phase 3. Completion of Probate (preparation and filing of additional required documents):
extra fee of $1,095 (or more)
The filing of a Petition to commence a probate is just the beginning of the probate process. Besides utilizing the Notice to Creditors Procedure, there are many other tasks that must be performed, and additional documents that must be completed and filed with the court to complete the administration of an estate. The additional documents include a(n): (a) Inventory and Appraisement; (2) Accounting; (3) Declaration of Completion of Probate; (4) Notice of Filing of Declaration of Completion, or Waiver or Notice of Filing; (5) one or more Receipt(s) of Full Distributive Share.
In most cases, where the executor faithfully and fully performs his or her role without significant assistance from counsel, and the estate is not overly complicated, we can provide the Completion of Probate services for an extra fixed fee of $1,095. However, in those probates which are more complex due to the nature of the particular assets or debts, attorney services will be provided at an hourly rate of $250, and paralegal type services will be provided at an hourly rate of $125.
IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE: The fixed fee service plan discussed above are applicable in straightforward probates that do not involve litigation or entail complex issues, do not require the preparation of legal documents beyond the basic probate court pleadings, and where the executor takes charge (with little supervision from counsel) to handle the affairs of the estate. The majority of the probates we have handled are of the straightforward kind, and no fees beyond the quoted fixed fees were charged. However, every probate is different, and in some cases, issues arise that were not anticipated by the client, requiring additional legal services to address those issues. So while we strive to keep our fees limited to the fixed fees quoted, we cannot guarantee when retained for a case that there will be no need for additional legal services beyond the basic services required, and cannot guarantee that there will be no additional legal fees or costs relating to the additional services. We also offer many other services, and handle more complicated probate and estate administration matters, for additional fees. Our managing attorney is a seasoned litigator and trial attorney, and can handle any litigation issue that may arise, such as a will contest or a dispute over a creditor's claim.
For those estates which do not qualify for the Will Probate Offer, we are available to provide legal services at either low-cost fixed fees or competitive hourly rates. Please contact us to find out how our very experienced counsel can handle the administration of an estate in a cost-effective and timely manner.
We offer a FREE 1/2 hour phone or in-person consultation, so please Contact Us to find out how we can assist you.