How is a Washington Probate Closed?
When a probate estate has been completely administered, all property has been collected, creditors have been paid, any necessary tax returns have been filed and taxes paid, and property has been distributed according to a will or according to law when there is no will, it is time to close the probate case. How is that done?
There are two alternatives. The first alternative involves an application to the court for a decree. The application requires detailed information and a hearing before the court. Due to the availability of the second alternative, this alternative is not used particularly frequently.
The second alternative does not require an application to the court. It involves a Declaration of Completion of Probate. The Declaration sets forth a chronology of events concerning the probate, such as the execution of the will (if any), the death of the individual, and various procedural steps taken during the course of administration of the estate. It also provides the professional fees paid or to be paid to the Personal Representative, the attorney for the Personal Representative, and any appraisers and accountants performing services for the estate. The Declaration is filed with the court in the probate and notice of that filing is sent within five days of the Declaration’s filing with the court to everyone entitled to receive notice. The recipients of that notice have thirty days from the date the Declaration is filed with the court in which to petition the court to enforce their rights under the Trust and Estate Dispute Resolution Act, to review the reasonableness of the fees set forth in the Declaration, and/or to compel the Personal Representative to close the estate by the application process briefly described above. If no party petitions the court within that thirty-day period, the filing of the Declaration will be the legal equivalent of entry of a Decree of Distribution.
If all parties entitled to receive notice waive in writing the notice of filing of the Declaration of Completion of Probate otherwise provided by statute, the signed waivers of notice and the Declaration will be filed with the court. When the Declaration is filed with the court, it will become effective as a Decree of Distribution when it is filed. In that case, there is no thirty-day period for a party to petition the court as described above. If any party entitled to receive notice does not waive the right to receive that notice, this procedure will not work because all parties entitled to receive notice would be required to waive the notice.