Discovering that you are entitled to an inheritance can evoke mixed emotions. On one hand, you are poised to receive something of personal or monetary value; on the other hand, the realization is often accompanied by the passing of someone close to you. Once informed of your entitlement to an inheritance, the natural curiosity arises regarding when you can expect to receive it. To provide insight into this timeline, the Bellevue attorneys at Legacy Estate Planning, LLC discuss how long you will need to wait to receive your inheritance in Washington State.
Is Your Inheritance Comprised of Probate Assets?
A pivotal factor in determining the amount of time it will take to receive an inheritance is whether the assets forming that inheritance are probate or non-probate assets. Probate assets are required to go through the probate process, while non-probate assets bypass this legal procedure. Probate is the legal process that is typically required to administer the estate of a recently deceased individual. Since non-probate assets are exempt from probate, they can be promptly distributed to the beneficiary following the owner’s demise. Examples of non-probate assets include assets held in a living trust, the decedent’s share of certain jointly owned assets, proceeds of a life insurance policy, and assets designated as “payable on death (POD)” or “transfer on death (TOD).”
Understanding the Probate Process
For inheritances involving probate assets, these assets must navigate the probate process before distribution to estate beneficiaries or legal heirs (if the decedent died intestate). Probate involves identifying estate assets, authenticating, and potentially litigating the decedent’s Will, and settling valid claims from estate creditors. Typically, beneficiaries or heirs only receive their share once the probate process concludes.
How Long Will It Take to Receive Your Washington State Inheritance?
Predicting the exact timeframe for receiving an inheritance in Washington State, particularly for assets subject to probate, is challenging. Creditors must be provided with notice that probate is underway and then given the opportunity to file claims against the estate. The Executor reviews and approves or denies claims, with approved claims and any estate taxes needing settlement before assets can be transferred to estate beneficiaries. If a creditor was properly notified of the initiation of probate, Washington State law dictates that the creditor must present the claim within the later of: Thirty days after the personal representative’s service or mailing of notice to the creditor; and four months after the date of first publication of the notice. If a creditor did not receive notice, the claim must still be field within 24 months of the decedent’s date of death. Assuming that notice was given, this gives creditors four months to file claims that must then be reviewed by the Executor. Consequently, even a relatively simple probate process takes at least five-six months to conclude, meaning beneficiaries will need to wait that long to receive their inheritance.
If the estate qualifies for a small estate alternative, the probate process can be expedited, leading to a quicker inheritance receipt. For a more precise estimate, consulting a probate attorney is recommended.
Do You Have Questions about Your Washington State Inheritance?
If you have specific questions about an inheritance you expect to receive in Washington State, contact the experienced Bellevue estate planning attorneys at Legacy Estate Planning, LLC by calling (425) 455-6788 to schedule an appointment.